Drama is very diverse and can therefore represent many different social issues.
Different pieces of drama represent a separate set of social issues depending on the author’s beliefs and values and the context of the piece of drama. The play Hedda Gabler was written by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright who believed that his plays reflected his beliefs and values. Ibsen supported women’s rights and their greater freedom, and also the idea of the New Woman. Hedda Gabler represents women living in a male-dominated society, with the central character Hedda, internally conflicted by her role in society and her desire for freedom.Ibsen’s plays were often controversial and Hedda Gabler represented a “complete perversion of womanhood” (Boyeson) that many of Ibsen’s contemporaries were horrified.
Ibsen’s plays were also a comment on society and, as he was a realist, represented real social issues that existed in society. Other than representing the social issue of woman in society, Hedda Gabler also represents freedom.Hedda is torn between her essential self- her inner nature- and her social self- the role she is called on to perform. Her essential self longs for freedom while her social self restrains her essential self from attaining that freedom. Hedda’s desire for freedom also prevents her from conforming to her social self which means submitting to the demands of family, friends, community, and society. Hedda Gabler represents a controversial but significant social issue of the internal conflict of women in a double standard society.
But was Ibsen writing a propaganda piece on feminism and gender equality?Drama and propaganda, at a glance, seem like two completely unrelated topics that could have no connection. However, if examined closely, we are able to see that a lot of what we watch and read in the form of drama is being used as propaganda. When we realise this, the differences between drama and propaganda become a lot less distinct. Hedda Gabler may represent strong social issues such as freedom for women, but it may be argued that it is feminist propaganda. However, it is not propaganda but a study of a changing world where social values were evolving. The concept of the New Woman confirms this.
Nevertheless, Hedda Gabler could be used as propaganda because it represents a social issue similar to that of the suffragettes. Hedda chooses to commit suicide rather than conform to society. We have seen how drama is able to represent many different social issues because there are many diverse forms of drama. Moreover, propaganda’s representation of social issues is more limited than that of drama because its aim involves only giving out limited information to the audience. Drama used as propaganda also has limitations to its representation of social issues because it again, is restricted in the information it conveys. Therefore, drama’s representation of social issues differs from that of propaganda because they each have different objectives, and when drama is used as propaganda, its aim is the same as any other form of propaganda.Drama is a means of expression and communication, conveying many themes, values, and issues to an audience.
Social issues are one of these, almost always represented in drama. Drama, however, can also be used as political propaganda and there are many plays and films that have been used in this way. They also represent social issues, but their representation is limited. The aim of propaganda is to persuade an audience of a concept or issue, and so it shows usually only one side of the issue. For example, Chinese Communist propaganda may represent loyalty and prosperity but fails to recognise poverty.The representation of social issues is very limited.
Drama that has been used as propaganda include the Nazi German film Triumph of the Will, representing social issues such as anti-Semitism and the superior Aryan race. Again however, the social issues are limited. Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler may be able to act as feminine propaganda due to its social issues of gender and women in society but it is more simply a comment on society and a representation of common social issues. Drama and propaganda and their representations of social issues differ only because they have different objectives and purposes; drama being to express and communicate, and propaganda being to persuade and convince.