Describe the poor treatment of women in Hedda Gabler (social, emotional, and physical) and how it reflects a romantic or realistic approach.

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The title of Hedda Gabler is the protagonist's maiden name, though in the play she has just married and is, in fact, Hedda Tesman. Ibsen explained this in a letter to Moritz Prosor, where he wrote:

My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be regarded rather as her father's daughter than her husband's wife.

This tells us quite a lot about the way women are regarded in the play and, for that matter, by the playwright. Ibsen always aimed to make his plays as realistic as possible, no matter how sensational the events they contain. He depicted people behaving as he thought they would in real life, whether he approved of their decisions or not. Hedda is not as obviously childish as Nora Helmer at the beginning of A Doll's House, but she is very nearly as spoiled. The Tesman family dance attendance upon her and regard her as very superior. However, like Ibsen, they regard her as "General Gabler's daughter" rather than as a personality in her own right.

Hedda is not physically mistreated, and it is certainly arguable that, if her relationships with Tesman and Lovborg are at all emotionally abusive, then she is the abuser rather than the abused. However, like several of Ibsen's heroines, she is imprisoned by the constraints of her position in society, which include her gender as well as her social class. It is these constraints, rather than any particular person, that inflict upon her the boredom and emotional sterility which drive her to desperation.

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