The Perse School

Rouse Awards – Georgia Good’s study of Hedda Gabler as a feminist play

6 Nov 2017

Georgia Good (Upper Sixth) picked up the Rouse Research Award for her study of whether Henrik Ibsen’s work Hedda Gabler could be considered a feminist play.

The Norwegian writer’s challenging work, first performed in 1891, has become one of his famous of his most famous plays.

Georgia was inspired to dig deeper into the play after watching a National Theatre production starring Ruth Wilson in the tragic central role.

Her essay was considered to have a “powerful and persuasive writing style” by the Rouse Awards judges, along with a strong exposition of what is meant by the term ‘feminism’.

Georgia explains the plot to Hedda Gabler below.

Georgia felt while Ibsen had largely written Hedda Gabler with the intention of getting inside the human mind, he had also advocated women’s rights as a by-product of his work.

She said: “He was very accurate in his portrayal of what a lot of women were feeling and you can see that in the reaction to the play at the time because it was adopted by suffragettes.

“There’s also a comment I really like from a Victorian woman who saw the play – ‘Hedda is all of us’ – which embodies the female reaction to it.”

Georgia feels Hedda Gabler remains a “shocking and radical” play and believes it is hard to credit that it was written in the late 19th Century.

She said: “That’s what’s so amazing about it and my conclusion was that it is a feminist play, but in a way that’s unexpected.

“It’s easy to see it or read it and think clearly this is a woman who doesn’t fit society’s expectations and she rebels against them, but I think it’s more complex than that.

“There’s a lot about Hedda’s character that puts her in this position and causes her to suffer in the way she does and I think it’s that, along with the role society plays, which makes it feminist.

“She is complex and she’s not that sympathetic. She’s tragic, but she also dislikeable because she’s cool, manipulative and controlling.

“To write a female character who isn’t likeable or sympathetic, but is multi-faceted and three-dimensional is ultimately why it’s feminist because she’s being portrayed as a human being rather than just a woman in a specific role.”

The Rouse Awards are generously sponsored by Alan and Valerie Hirzel.

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