Islamic Azad University
Central Tehran Branch
Faculty of Foreign Languages – Department of Postgraduate Studies
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Postgraduate as a Partial Fulfillment for the Degree of M.A in English Literature
An Investigation into Social Interest: An Adlerian Critical Reading of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s Houseand Hedda Gabler in the Light of Psychoanalytical Feminism
Dr. Razieh Eslamieh
Professor Dr. Jalal Sokhanvar
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The present thesis attempts to study Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler in terms of Adlerian theories of Psychoanalytic Feminism and Social Interest. This study defines the process of constructing a female framework; where women are producers of “textual meaning” including the psychodynamics of female creativity, linguistics and the problem of a female language. Adler declares the ways that the female individual interacts with her husband and others can conduct her toward individual gain or collective goals. In addition, women are deprived of some obvious rights, and the only remedy is to understand their social identity which brings them Life Style and Social Interest. Additionally, Adler argues that such psychological force underlies human behavior, especially the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation. Alfred Adler claims that there isa relation between masculinity and femininity which are crucial for understanding Individual Psychology. In A Doll’s House, the man is universally privileged because of his gender while the woman is suppressed, and Feeling of Inferiority is. It is believed that social law ties women to men forever. Love and sexual relations also proceed in the way men prefer. In Hedda Gabler Hedda, is a woman restricted by Victorian values and trapped in a loveless marriage with aboring man. Her only solace is manipulating others, which easily shows the definition of Social Interest in the drama. In sum, this study addresses a number of points in demonstrating the real position of woman in the society and their feeling about the society.
Psychoanalytic Feminism, Social Interest, Life Style, Individual Psychology
Table of Content
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is a Norwegian playwright and poet. He belongs to the school of realism, but he is not afraid to be unrealistic. His works include Brand (1866), Peer Gynt (1867), An Enemy of the People (1882), Emperor and Galilean (1873), A Doll’s House (1879), HeddaGabler (1890), Ghosts (1881), The Wild Duck (1884), Rosmersholm (1886), and The Master Builder (1892).There are melodramatic devices like secret revealing letters. People enter and exit just when Ibsen needs to continue on to the next scene and bring on new opinions. His goal is to interrogate ideas, to deal with individuals, to make characters think about their society rather than presenting photographic reality.
Ibsen tried to incorporate as much prose writing in his plays as possible without losing the story’s focal point. He tried to combine social and psychological problems in realistic contemporary settings of this plays; plays that deal with such problems are called problem plays. During his life, he went through three separate writing periods: Romantic, Social, and Symbolist. His radical views condensed in his plays give an insight into a life meaning.
Ibsen’s themes were similar to those of early Greek plays which focused on a certain issue and questioned the ethical morality of a situation.
Henrik Ibsen prepared A Doll’s House during Christmas. His story of emancipation and defeat takes place during a period associated with cheerfulness and family reunion. The Christian tradition associates Christmas with redemption and hope. Ibsen constructed a story in the tradition of realism to illustrate a different method of deliverance. As a practical method Ibsen preached the liberation of the individual, especially about the woman. He emphasized the principle of heredity. He made many studies of confused minds and analyzed the mutual relationships that of husband and wife harshly.
Nora Helmer is apparently happily married to Torvald. However she had to manage to catch some money for the journey privately and so borrowed it from Krogstad. When the play opens, Nora’s old friend Mrs. Linde, has already arrived in the town to look for a job, and Nora tells her that Torvald gives her a post at the bank. However this means that Krogstad loses his job at the bank. Krogstad in hopelessness goes to Nora and intimidates to tell Torvald about the loan unless he is permitted to keep his post. Torvald understands what has happened, and responds with anger and repugnance. Nora has begun to understand that her marriage is not what she has always thought and in the course of a dramatic conversation with Torvald she decides that her most important and only task is to go out into the world on her own to live without being afraid to study and learn about herself and society.
HeddaGabler is a play that published in 1890 by Henrik Ibsen. Hedda Tesman is the daughter of General Gabler, who died without leaving her anything. She has a fellowship in the history of art. She has been brought up by his two aunts, Julle, and Rina. At the beginning of the play, Hedda and Jorgen have just returned from a long honeymoon. Jorgen has spent his time working on records whileedda, as she confides to their friend Judge Brack has been bored on her honeymoon. She becomes pregnant, a fact she has so far concealed from her surroundings. Jorgen is met on arrival by the bad news that he is going to have to compete for the chair with one of Hedda’s former admirers, EilertLovborg. The latter is known to be a bohemian, gifted, butone to drinking too much. In recent years, however, he has lived quietly and soberly, and written two theses inspired by and in collaboration with Thea Elvsted.
At the beginning of the play, he has arrived in the city, bringing one of the manuscripts with him. Thea, who is deeply in love with him, has left her husband and followed him. In the course of barely two days, Hedda stages a number of happenings with dramatic consequences. She gets Lovborg to go to a “stag party” at Judge Brack’s and get drunk. During the festivities, he loses the manuscript of his new book. JorgenTesman finds it and gives to Hedda to look after, but Hedda does not tell Lovborg this. Instead, she burns the manuscript and gives him one of her father’s pistols, telling him to shoot himself “beautifully”. Far from this, Lovborg is accidentally shot at a brothel, and Brack, who knows where the pistol came from, uses this knowledge to try to blackmail Hedda into becoming his mistress. Thea and Tesman find close companionship in the work of reconstructing Lovborg’s manuscript on the basis of notes Thea has kept. When Hedda realizes that she is in Brack’s power and has nothing more to live for, she shoots herself with the second of the General’s pistols.
Alfred Adler focuses on the importance of equality in impeding different forms of psychopathology, and supported the development of social interest and democratic family structures for raising child. Adler stated unequivocally that social interest is the criterion of mental health. He based this finding solely on his observations as a psychiatrist that mentally healthy persons feel at home on this earth with all its advantages and disadvantages, and act as true fellowmen; that is, they demonstrate a developed social interest.(Edward Hoffman,The drive for self: Alfred Adler and the founding of individual psychology48).However, Adler was also among the first in the field of psychology to claim in favor of feminism making the dynamics of power between men and women is crucial to understand human psychology. He sustained that human psychology is psychodynamic in nature, yet unlike Freud’s metapsychology, which accentuates instinctual demands, in his theories human psychology is led by goals and fueled by an unknown power. The concept of social interest is in opposition to one’s private interests or concerns. Alfred Adler wrote “We are not determined by our experiences, but are self-determined by the meaning we give to them; and when we take particular experiences as the basis for our future life, we are almost certain to be misguided to some degree. Situations do not determine meanings. We determine ourselves by the meanings we ascribe to situations.” (Alfred Adler, What Life Could Mean to You37)The person’s style of life is the set of personal narratives one has devised in order to cope with being in the world. If one has social interest then one evidences or enacts a useful style of life.
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