Hedda’s words: The work of language in Hedda Gabler

Book Section

For ordinary language philosophy-the philosophical tradition after Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin, as constituted and extended by Stanley Cavell-meaning arises in use. Utterances are actions and expressions. This philosophy, therefore, is closely attuned to the work of language in theater. This paper shows that ordinary language philosophy gives rise to a kind of literary criticism that considers reading an practice of acknowledgment, as en effort to understand exactly why the characters say precisely these words in precisely this situation. By paying close attention to Hedda’s interactions with three different linguistic worlds-the Tesman world, the Brack world, and the world she shared with Løvborg in the past-this chapter brings out the contrast between the conventionality and brutality of Hedda’s surroundings and Hedda’s ideals of courage and freedom, and shows that Hedda is more vulnerable, and more damaged, than previous readings have assumed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Moi, T

Published Date

  • January 1, 2017

Book Title

  • Ibsen's Hedda Gabler: Philosophical Perspectives

Start / End Page

  • 152 - 173

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780190467876

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/oso/9780190467876.003.0008

Citation Source

  • Scopus