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Compare the characters Hedda of Hedda Gabler by Ibsen, Shen Teh from The Good Person...

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mohammmad | eNoter

Posted May 5, 2013 at 12:57 PM via web

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Compare the characters Hedda of Hedda Gabler by Ibsen, Shen Teh from The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht, and Lizzie Borden of Blood Relations by Sharon Pollock in terms of the self versus society: How did each of them want to be free from all the boundaries of society?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted May 21, 2013 at 11:49 PM (Answer #1)

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Hedda, Lizzie, and Shen Teh each were in conflict against society. Shen Teh's was by far the most innocent conflict. Shen Teh learned to break the boundaries of society when she discovered that in her own person she was not powerful enough to keep friends, relations and customers from taking advantage of her good nature as she operated her tobacco shop. It was only when she broke the bounds and disguised herself as her own cousin Shui Ta that she was able to be powerful enough to conduct her business in a good way.

Hedda's conflict was more sinister yet the worst consequence of her conflict is only intentionally directed at herself, though she inadvertently involves Lovborg as her pistol was the instrument of his death. Hedda ultimate breaks the boundaries of society by shooting herself with her heirloom pistols. Before that, she strained against society's bounds, without breaking through them, because of the boredom and dissatisfaction her life and wife caused her.

 HEDDA.
[In the inner room.] I hear what you are saying, Tesman. But how am I to get through the evenings out here?
[...]
 [Speaking loud and clear.] Yes, don't you flatter yourself we will, Judge Brack? Now that you are the one cock in the basket—
     [A shot is heard within. [They] leap to their feet.]
TESMAN.
Oh, now she is playing with those pistols again.
   [He throws back the curtains and runs in, ...  HEDDA lies stretched on the sofa, lifeless. ...]

Lizzie is the one who breaks through society's boundaries in the most dramatic ways, and, depending upon your confidence in the verdict of her trial, in a way that devastated the lives of others. (1) Lizzie described herself as "defective" because of her disinclination to socially required heterosexuality: "Through some terrible oversight ... I was born ... defective." (2) Though acquitted, Lizzie may have murdered her father and stepmother in accordance with her idea that not all life is "precious": "Is all life precious?" is a question she asks Dr. Patrick.

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