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Sylvia Plath’s “Pursuit” in Relation to Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler”

Uploaded by trillianmcmillan on Jul 30, 2002

In comparing Sylvia Plath’s poem “Pursuit” to Henrik Ibsen’s play “Hedda Gabler,” one can see many similarities between their themes of emotional distress and the destructive tendencies of unstoppable internal demons. Throughout “Pursuit,” a panther hunts Plath, the panther symbolizing an internal feeling that is literally trapping and killing her. In the same way, Hedda’s own emotions and actions have ensnared her, and she feels that her only way of escape is through death. My poem, “Finale” closely imitates Plath’s poetic mannerisms in “Pursuit,” while incorporating themes from “Hedda Gabler,” in order to explain her suicide. The poem is titled “Finale” because it reveals the events leading to the outcome of the final act of the play “Hedda Gabler,” and it also incorporates a personal interpretation of the causes of the final scene of Hedda’s life – her death.

The extended metaphor throughout “Finale” is that of a train, paralleling the extended metaphor of the panther in “Pursuit.” This was inspired by the train conceit in Act Two of “Hedda Gabler,” which appears during Hedda’s elusive conversation with Brack, involving a series of metaphors concerning Brack’s wishes to enter a train compartment with Hedda and her husband, which would subsequently create a triangular relationship between himself, Hedda, and Tesman. The conversation ends with Hedda admitting that she would not mind “somebody else [climbing] into the compartment” (Ibsen 204). Ironically, the end of this conversation leads to the beginning of Hedda’s feeling that she is losing control, which signifies the start of the situation that will lead to the end of her life. “Finale” both begins and ends with a direct reference to the train because of this; Hedda’s feeling that she had lost control was so great that it engulfed her, mentally stalked her, and created a fear that was slowly consuming her. It follows that she felt that her only way to escape the life that she saw spanning out before her was through death.

The train in “Finale” proves to be stealthier than the panther in “Pursuit”, for while the panther is an apt pursuer, the train accomplishes what it has striven for throughout the poem – Hedda’s death. This fact is revealed in the fourth line of “Finale,” when it is stated that the train “stalks more stealthily than the panther,” as the future of the life of the speaker in Plath’s poem is not definite, while it is...

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Uploaded by:   trillianmcmillan

Date:   07/30/2002

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,159 words)

Views:   4012

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