chapter  V
The 'Gyntish Self'
Pages 9

The Lady from the Sea and Hedda Gabler deal with feminine psychology in married life from two different angles and with different results. The problem in both plays is one of individual adjustment, treated by Ibsen not only with consummate tact but also with unusual detachment. In The Lady from the Sea he touches moreover upon the subconscious in terms of psychoanalytical images, which are obviously less baffling to present-day audiences than they were to his contemporaries. Ellida Wangel, the 'lady from the sea', suffers from an acute anxiety-neurosis. One of Ibsen's commentators even sees in it a modernist parody of The Vikings in Helgeland. Hedda is likened by him to an up-to-date Hjordis gone to seed. Ibsen's Hedda, that 'Valkyrie in a corset', as one of his critics called her, is a study in frustration. In contrast to Ellida in The Lady from the Sea, she is not only unable, but also unwilling, to 'acclimatize' herself creatively to life.