Essential Self Vs. Social Self

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Essential Self Vs. Social Self Throughout the novels, Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, and The Stranger, by Albert Camus, the protagonists are faced with many internal struggles. Although they are not similar characters by any means they share one distinct quality. Both Hedda in Hedda Gabler and Meursualt in The Stranger struggle with is their social self, and their essential self. The social self is the part of a person that is able to connects with demands of their community, their family, their friends, and their society. The essential self is defined as a person’s true self, who that person really is through their own thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings. In both of the works, struggles are presented between the protagonist’s social self and their essential self that they deal with throughout the story. Both question their social selves and rely mostly on their essential selves. Hedda Gabler is a perfect example of someone who struggles greatly with the internal conflict between her essential and her social self. The cultural ramifications are an important part of this novel. The cultural ramifications are the Hedda is expected to be the sophisticated house wife that stays home and tends to her family, while this is exact opposite of who Hedda really is. Hedda has always been her. She is very unique in her thinking and very different from those other “proper, bourgeois” women that surround her. In a converstion with Thea, Hedda states, “I want the power to shape a man’s destiny” (Ibsen 37). Hedda’s place in society is evident from the very beginning of the play Hedda Gabler. Miss Tesman, talking about Hedda, says, “General Gabler’s daughter. What a life she had in the general’s day!” (11). Although she was brought up as a General’s daughter, which in the days this play is set, means a very high social rank, She is now married to George Tesman.
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