A hero can be defined as a person who is able to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the society as a whole. The duty the hero carries out is more meaningful than the hero’s life. But in the recent times there is a sharp contrast in the ideals of heroism as the protagonists in novels and plays are portrayed as heroes where they may not necessarily be known for heroic acts. The hero will thus be the protagonist and a lot will revolve around them. T his essay will dwell on two heroines: Hedda Gabbler and Elizabeth Bennet.
In the play “HEDDA GABLER’’ the protagonist Hedda Gabler does perform not any act of heroism but is the hero in the play. She provokes Ejlert Lovborg (who is has become a threat to his husband Tesman in terms of his literature he has written). This portrays Hedda Gabler as a malicious person since Lovborg has just transformed from alcoholism. While drunk he loses his manuscript of a novel “Sequel”. The manuscript is taken by Tesman (Hedda’s husband and Lovborgs’ competitor).
The ensuing events further display her as a strong-willed lady a trait shared by Elizabeth in pride and prejudice. Both women have gone to great heights to achieve a goal. However, their goals are very different. Hedda manages to convince Lovborg to commit suicide in his drank state in a quest to saw off the job threat he has posed on her husband. In a sharp contrast to this Elizabeth Bennet’s goals are for a good cause. She manages to build good relationships by confronting problems and thus helping solve them.
Another trait of Hedda Gabbler that clearly comes out is that she is filled with jealous. This is clearly shown by the fact that she is not happy about the friendship between Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted. She decides to come in between the two by making sure Lovborg takes away his life by committing suicide. She goes to the extent of offering a pistol so that he can shoot himself. On the other hand Elizabeth is a selfless lady. She braves the rain and mud to go and cater for her elder sister, Jane who falls ill on her way to her lover, Bingley’s mansion. She confronts Darcy at the Bingley mansion because her lover, Wickham confessed to her that he suffered at his hands. Elizabeth also after turning down Collins has no qualms with the fact that her best friend Charlotte Lucas accepts him. She even visits them in Kent.
Heddar is a selfish lady since she does not marry Tesman out of love. She decides to get married to him because she wanted to get the boredom out of her life. She is full of herself and would do anything to make herself happy even if it means marrying someone she is not in love with to convincing one to committing suicide and even offering a piston to carry out the same. She seems to be a true hero to his husband only.
Elizabeth is also portrayed as a gullible lady. Elizabeth chooses to befriend Wickham who lies to her about how Darcy had mistreated him. Elizabeth’s weaknesses are shown when she becomes mean to Mr. Darcy by making sarcastic remarks and verging her anger towards him. Elizabeth does this because Mr. Darcy had turned down her offer to dance with him. She refuses to advise her sister Jane about the relationship she has with Bingley. She chooses to defend her sister by claiming that she is shy and modest hence she could not openly show her affection for Bingley.
Elizabeth turns down a marriage proposal by Mr. Collins because of the first impression she had formed when she first met him. She goes ahead and concludes that Bingley’s sister and Darcy had conspired to separate Jane and Bingley. This is another case where she quickly jumps to conclusion without bothering to find the truth. Heddar is on the hand assertive and uses her wit to get the right information before acting.
Elizabeth is considerate. After all the negative impression and coldness that he had developed towards Darcy, she was able to get over it and believe the truth. She accepted her weaknesses by embracing the truth on every negative opinion she had formed. This is evident when she read the letter from Darcy where Darcy confessed that he had not mistreated Wickham. He stated that it was Wickham who gambled all the money he gave him and even went ahead to want to elope with Elizabeth’s sister. On the case of the separation of Bingley and Jane he said he had done it in the interest of his friend since Jane had not shown any affection towards him. Hedda’s self-interest overshadows her humane side and she manipulates peoples’ minds to her advantage.
Elizabeth character as one who stands by what she believes in was shown by her not giving in to Lady Catherine’s threat that she should not accept the marriage proposal from Darcy. She went against Lady Catherine’s wishes and accepted the proposal. This portrays her as a courageous lady which is a trait of a hero. She believed that Darcy was the right man for her and she did everything within her to make sure she got him.
In the play “Hedda Gabler” the protagonist does not possess any heroic ideal. She is one of the most elusive and controversial heroine of all time in theatre. She led a boring life and a loveless marriage. This is a sharp contrast between the heroism ideal. She does not make any sacrifices for the good of the community or the society. On the other hand Elizabeth is the model feminist who stood her ground even in front Lady Catherine. She advocates for proper treatment and believes in equality. She is full of love for her family and is very courageous. She stands by what she believes in no matter how much she is threatened. She speaks her mind. She is always ready to make sacrifices for the good of her family and society. Elizabeth has the traits that can be celebrated although she is not perfect.
The protagonist in the play “Hedda Gabler” is so different from one in the novel “Pride and Prejudice”. This clearly brings out the different attitudes towards heroes and heroism ideals in the renaissance and post renaissance period. Hedda Gabler defines the hero in the renaissance era where one did not necessarily have to have heroism ideals as compared to the one in the post-renaissance era. The hero or heroine in the post-renaissance era has to have the heroic traits that can be celebrated.
Elizabeth is the hero and Hedda a great failure. Going by the two story lines, one should prioritize the mission first before his or her life to be able to lead a good and fulfilling life. One should make sacrifices for the good of the larger society or community. One should have courage and confidence that is above that of a normal person. This is a true hero or heroine if he or she has the above traits.