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The character analysis of Hedda and Shen Te

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                The good woman of Setzuan is a play written by Brecht about a character by the name of Shen Te; a young woman who is depicted as being generous, but one who later turns into prostitution from the pressure of poverty. However, this young woman is later highly rewarded after welcoming three visiting gods; after which she works hard to operate honestly and provide for the needy. However, the woman is exposed to the evil ways of her neighbors and a dishonest lover; which leaves her no option than to change from being good to becoming bad and selfish so as to really make it along with the unscrupulous people within her society (Brencht, 1999) (Ibsen, 1990).

                Hedda Gabler on the other hand is a play authored by Ibsen about a woman named Hedda; who from the play is portrayed as being aristocratic and difficult to please. Further, Hedda is depicted as a character not capable of easily adjusting to the bourgeois life she is exposed to after getting married. Additionally, this character is through the work portrayed as being unsympathetic despite being jealous of her cheating on the husband (Brencht, 1999) (Ibsen, 1990).

                To start with it should be noted that Shen Te as opposed to Hedda; is used to living in poverty which later drives her into prostitution just so as to make things w for her and avoid the difficulties she goes through. Hedda on the other hand being the daughter of a general; she had been used to a luxurious living which she somehow continues after she was married to a rather wealthy husband. From the two plays it is also clear that Hedda is very manipulative and decided on what she does through her daily activities, as opposed to Shen Te who rather seems not capable of controlling her life and affairs within the society. The other difference between Hedda and Shen Te is that Hedda proved only interested in manipulating the people around her, while Shen Te seemed more interested in being good, living up to societal standards and helping the needy (Brencht, 1999) (Ibsen, 1990).

                From the two plays the other difference that can be noted from the two characters is that Hedda was a highly unpredictable dishonest person, while Shen Te seems to be an individual who is honest, sympathetic and predictable. Further, this character in the long run led to her welcoming the three gods who rewarded her with wealth. The other character traits that can be used to differentiate Hedda from Shen Te, include the fact that Shen Te was capable of adjusting to the exhaustive behavior of the people surrounding her and the lover she had; while Hedda finds it very hard to adjust to the Bourgeois life she is to live at her husbands place (Brencht, 1999) (Ibsen, 1990).

                Some of the similar characteristics that can be identified with the two characters include those of being manipulative, despite the fact the fact that Shen Te takes to this behavior after facing the unfairness of the people surrounding her. The other similarity between the two is that they can be viewed as characters who are struggling to meet societal expectations for Shen Te; and struggling to live up to the changes taking place for Hedda (Brencht, 1999) (Ibsen, 1990).

                From the two works it is clear that the views the authors pass or express about women are that women have to live under a sense of societal control and manipulation with regard to what they are expected to do; and their control over men. The other issues expressed by the authors include those of changing lifestyle and character, and whether they are to be motivated or put down anytime they try to get into controlling issues (Brencht, 1999) (Ibsen, 1990).


                Having discussed the characters of Hedda and Shen Te from the two works it is clear that some of the issues and factors that control or alter the behavior of women within the society include wealth or poverty, societal pressure and demands fro them; and the relationships they keep with other people and the general society.


    Brencht, B. (1999). The good woman of Setzuan, 1st edition. Minneapolis: University of

                Minnesota Press

    Ibsen, H. (1990). Hedda Gabler, Dover thrift editions. New York: Dover Publishers.


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