The established view of the Portrayal of Marriage in the 19th century in "Hedda Gabler" and "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" is a study of aggravation and misery created in the exceptional individuals by a conventionalized society. The establishment of Ibsen’s play predominantly focuses on the most central character, Hedda Gabler who is presented in some eligible sense at least as an existential or a person who can cause tragedies in the society. Hedda Gabler has presented the reader with a certain version of a “modest tragedy”, that form in which the assertions of an isolated person are ingenuously asserted against those of a convectional society.
“The Death of Ivan Ilyich” is a play that explicitly discusses on how the experience of one’s death is received by the society including his own family. The story unfolds as Ivan’s obituary is shared by his friends and colleagues. Some of them are happy about it since it will secure them a job, while others are moved by his death. Ultimately, the whole play is all about Ivan’s experience with his death. Comprehensively, this paper seeks to enlarge our understanding how the theme of marriage and its establishment in the contemporary society.
Comparison of Hedda Gabbler play and death of Ivan Ilyich on portrayal of marriage in 19th century
Both literature works have some commonality on their themes pertaining how marriage is portrayed in the 19th century. It is clearly depicted by both authors that the main characters of their literature work experience or rather exhibit the same traits in the lives they lead especially ,marriage lives. It can be noted that Hedda Gabbler and Ivan Ilyich do not show any signs of happiness from their marriage.
They feel to be leading a life that do not suit them and therefore develop a psychological problem that particularly could be described as one that makes them not to be contented with their social set up and the responsibilities they should handle respectively which correspond with their position in the society. For instance, Hedda is characterized as a woman who exudes more masculine traits than feminine characters as is expected since she is female.
This character is shown to be eccentric for a newly married woman who joined very affluent family in-laws. Her nature of having a bias of manly qualities makes her feel uncomfortable to take the roles of a wife who is under the control of a man since she believes that she is also like a man so can also take charge of people. Her character as a person who exhibits masculine nature is illustrated in the play by stating some of the aspects that evidently portrayed this. Hedda is seen to have a manly physique “‘riding along with her father’, ‘in that long black habit’, ‘and feathers in her hat’”. The first quotation means a masculine role or activity, the second one depicts violence and fatality while the third symbolizes freedom. All these representations revolve around the fact that Hedda is manlier than a feminine.
Another scenario that shows that Hedda does not feel comfortable being under her husband or rather being proud to be a woman and wife is the fact that she refers herself as Hedda Gabbler instead of using her husband’s name as the surname. She later uses the title” General Gabbler’s daughter” to completely detach herself from the husband’s effect in a wife. As if these is not enough she goes on to adopting a title which remains as Hedda implying that she does not have any regard of a man in her life. All these are instances that show the manly nature of this character and the reason why she detests to be controlled by a man. This is the reason why she lives a life full of frustration yet she is newly married and expecting a baby. On the other hand, Leo Tolstoy draws out a character similar to that of Hedda when perceived in a marriage context.
Ivan has the same attitude towards the marriage life he is leading as a husband and the general life as a man like Hedda. He feels not satisfied as a husband since he is not ready to take the roles that are bestowed to him within the institution of marriage. He also feels that he does not deserve to live a life of misery like any other middle class person in the society since he deems himself to be of a higher social rank.
This can be illustrated by the fact that he acquires a house in town where he works so that he can live an exclusive life a like an affluent person whom he is not. It is there very clear that this character tries to avoid his roles as a family man making him to have a poor rapport with the family members. This is evident because it is said that the only person who gives him company at his death bed is Gerasim.This man also has a psychological problem similar to that of Hedda which makes him not to come into terms with the reality of death and actually both characters die due to this problem.
Contrast between Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen and "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" by Leo Tolstoy
The established readings of Henrik Ibsen show that marriage in this play is characterized by kind of frustrations which mostly affects either of the characters. For instance, in his play the Heddas in-laws love the wife of Hedda although hedda does not show any interest towards his wife. This depicts that, the wife is never at peace with the marriage life as it is expected. Being shown compassion by the in-laws is not satisfactory to her. This can be contrasted to the Ivan’s marriage life, at first Ivan did not marry because it was the right time for him to do so but he did it due to some influence or pressure from the society.
The first was very at the beginning, but hell broke loose after they were blessed with children who unfortunately happen to pass away. This is when the wife sees no significance of her husband. She does not respect her neither does she love her. This is evident when Ivan’s falls sick and he is at his death bet. Neither the wife nor the family comes to console her and instead a very close friend is the one who comes for his consolation. Another contrast is that Hedda dies out of committing suicide to the psychological problems that he was going through from his marriage life. This is similar to the death of Iva who dies out of unknown disease which comes out of falling on his side.
Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilych, Chicago: Kessinger Publishing, 2004.
Henrik Ibsen. Hedda Gabler. Chicago: Echo Library, 2006.