Regarding three plays, which were written in different periods, a reader can easily trace that each of them reveals the cultural peculiarities of modern to the authors Renaissance England, Victorian Norway, and South Africa. Although the protagonist of each play is different from others, a reader can trace not only the conflict between their protagonists and the society, but also the role of their ambitions in shaping their own lives. As a result, all three plays show that the society, the circumstances are stronger than a person, no matter how ambitious or amenable he or she is.
Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler is obviously a very ambitious character, whose views on life and beliefs are different from those, which were accepted in the society of Victorian Norway. Her protest against the social norms reveals her upbringing, inner conflicts and position of women in the society. Hence the events and conflicts of the play depict how a female protagonist, who wants to become a master of her fate, revolts against the commonness. She is not an example of “feminine devotion and beauty” like her foil Thea Elvert (Ibsen 246). On the contrast, Hedda is “unfeminine” and even resembles a man, namely “that disgusting Judge” Bracks (Ibsen 257). Nevertheless, having depicted an ambitious female protagonist, Ibsen makes the readers respect her, but shows that her ambitions mean nothing to the society as she cannot change anything no matter how she tries.
The next hero, Hally or Master Harold cannot be regarded as a weak person. However, the apartheid, which was a definitive feature of modern to Fugard South Africa, and the social norms have a great influence on his development. Regardless Sam was “old enough to be his father” and has brought Hally up from the early age, the social norms and conditions change the main hero’s attitude to the racial matters (Fugard 21). Although Hally had friendly and warm relations with Sam, Hally’s decision to make his old friend call him “Master Harold” shows that the circumstances and social rules were stronger than he was. The last scene, when Sam reminded Hally about “flying a kite in good weather” becomes the anagnorisis of the play and symbol of hope, which is the only thing the society has not destroyed (Fugard 34).
On the contrast to two previous characters, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Thane of Cawdor” is amendable and weak (Shakespeare 35). He cannot stand against his fate and against the manipulations of Lady Macbeth. Regardless his doubts and the fact that “two truths are told”, after all peripeteia, the reader can see that the circumstances and fate have quite easily shaped his character (Shakespeare 55).
Finally, one can see that the common feature for the plays Macbeth, Hedda Gabler, Master Harrold and the Boys is the fact that the society defines the deeds and shapes the features of people. Regardless their ambitions and beliefs, the social norms are stronger and, finally, make the heroes surrender.