Is Hedda Gabler an absurdist play?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen is not an absurdist play. It was originally produced on 31 January 1891 and is widely considered a classic example of realism. Its characters are typical of the middle to upper classes of its period and it responds to the social problems of the changing roles of women, marriage, and the hereditary aristocracy in Norway in the late nineteenth century. 

The Theater of the Absurd is a term used to refer to a movement in theater that started after World War II in France, some 50 years after the production of Hedda Gabler and after the death of Ibsen. It is a reaction against realism and presents a life that is radically meaningless. Many of the absurdist playwrights use extremely unrealistic or imaginary settings rather than restricting themselves to the sort of things that ordinarily happen, and their plays often violate laws of cause and effect.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Hedda Gabler is a realistic play, as are almost all of Ibsen’s plays (some early works could considered historical or Neoclassic); her situation is inside a domestic, recognizable setting; her character conflicts conform to psychological reality; the mise-en-scene of the play obeys all the rules of physics.  Absurdism as a genre or style is decades away (think Ionesco's Rhinoceros).  Nihilism has nothing to do with the play.   Just because the character Hedda kills herself does not make the play absurd.  These literary terms only help our communication if we use them carefully, accurately, and consciously -- they can't just be thrown out there like confetti.


khushikhan1989's profile pic

khushikhan1989 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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i think yes it is an absurd play becoz the character of hedda is the victim of nihilism.

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