Hedda Gabler

TITLE : People may argue that George, Eilert, and Judge Brack are responsible for Hedda’s death, but in reality it is the fault of Hedda’s society.


I’ve chosen this statement for several reasons. Ibsen’s character, Hedda Gabler, represents the women of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Hedda stands the issues of self-worth and the deflated value that each woman places upon her own importance as a result of male dominance.

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We can see this in the play, as we read we learn more about the character of Hedda Gabler. She is the daughter of a General who expected a life if glamour and wealth and rebels against the boredom of a dull, narrow existence by vindictively scheming against everyone around her. Hedda also strives to ruin Eilert Lovborg, the intellectual she once rejected as a suitor. She is meddling in Eilert’s life for her own amusement and control.

She lives in a male dominance society and environment which caged her and made her lose her freedom. Her desire to escape and her yearning for individual and spiritual freedom come to the surface as she discovers her father’s pair of pistols. Comparing Hedda with the other women of the play we can see that thea wasn’t the woman with the more control. She also had an unhappy marriage because of Eilert’s work. Aunt Julia is different; she likes to help people, she raised George and took care Rina. As far as Berda is concerned, there is not much to say because she is the servant of the house and she just takes care of everybody and obeys to orders from her bosses. Hedda is a powerful woman, who on the surface appeared to be confined by a dress, imprisoned in man’s house, and smothered by a male-dominated society. Hedda was a calculating “bitch” who dared (quite shrewdly) to cross over her set in stone “boundaries”, manipulate others, and stand back and watch others lives be destroyed as a result. But when she is backed into a corner by the “new” creative couple (George and Thea) and Judge Brack, she takes the final power into her own hand. The irony is that the power is her late father’s pistol.

In the play, we can also sense how woman felt during the times of patriarchy. Hedda is an extraordinary and very complex character but at the same time is fairly simple to understand. Her evil doings are somewhat erased from our minds as we justify them, we feel pity towards Hedda because of the pitiful life she is trapped in, the distorted views on life that Hedda possesses come to a climax toward the end and we understand a bit more about her character. However, just as we begin to understand her actions and feel pity towards her instead of hate we sadly discover her death at the end. How tragic is her death when it was the ultimate control of a destiny that she so strongly desired?
The issues of greed have a stronghold in myriad literary pieces, effectively demonstrating the value humanity places upon materialistic commodities. Money is , indeed, one of the most significant of all desires in a greedy person; however, there are also other entities that represent the concept of greed that have little to do with financial gain. In this play lies humanity’s quest for more, a concept that appears to be both inherent and learned depending upon one’s moral education. Hedda is both manipulated and manipulates by her vie for social power. The internal conflicts and the reasons behind them, like her fear for a scandal, her anger and disappointment and her lack of freedom to act autonomously in society caused her to delude herself into believing that she would find an answer in the case where she kept her father’s pistols.

Hedda Gabler

Critical Analysis of Ibsens Hedda Gabler
A spider becomes caught in its own web. This is an example of an attempted manipulation that went awry. Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, is a work about a woman who manipulates the fates of others in order to fulfill her own desires. The title character is a woman who has recently returned from a six month “honeymoon” with her groom, Tesman, a man whom she does not love. She yearns for freedom, but she feels as if she cannot leave her marriage. To occupy her time, she manipulates the lives of everyone around her. Hedda kills herself after becoming engorged in her own manipulations. Through the use of theme, setting, and then-current affairs, Ibsen produces a work that uniquely portrays the sources of the motivations of this manipulative woman.
Whether it be the burning of her former loves manuscript or supplying him with the pistol to shoot himself, Heddas malevolence shows the ability of man to have total disregard for the life of another. Hedda coldly manipulates the lives of everyone around her. Through these manipulative actions, she ruins the lives of all of her acquaintances. Because she is not happy in her marriage, she attempts to forbid anyone else to live a content life. For example, after she persuades Eljert Lovborg to consume alcohol, he ruins his reputation and loses something that is most precious to him: the manuscript of a book that he had been writing with Mrs. Elvsted. Although Hedda realizes the importance of this manuscript to both Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted, she chars it. Because Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted have put their souls into this manuscript, Hedda metaphorically relates her action to burning their child. This cold thoughtlessness demonstrates Heddas disregard for the life of a fellow human being. Heddas actions
ultimately lead to her demise. After giving Lovborg her pistol and insinuating that he must kill himself, Heddas cruel intentions are finally revealed. Judge Brack learns of her dealings and, thus, gains an opportunity to take advantage of this situation. When Hedda realizes that she will always be at the mercy of Judge Brack, she does the only thing she can do to escape this situation; she shoots herself. Throughout her manipulations, Hedda maintains a facade of innocence. Her truly malevolent nature, though, is displayed through her actions that relate this theme of mans inhumanity to man.

One may be able to determine the cause for Heddas desire to manipulate when the setting is examined. The whole of the play occurs indoors. Therefore, Hedda is constantly submerged in a place in which she is unhappy. Because her husband Tesman is constantly occupied with other happenings, Hedda is left in a setting that lends itself to plans of manipulation. Heddas true dreams and aspirations are those of freedom and independence (Hemmer 2). Her setting however, is an antithesis to her proclivity. While Hedda maintains a desire to be free to do as she pleases, her situation is one in which she is confined in her home. Because she constantly remains in this monotonous setting, she occupies her time with scheming against everyone around her. This is perhaps the principal cause for Heddas manipulations.

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In addition to the setting, the time period in which Hedda Gabler was written is key to the background of Heddas manipulations. The late nineteenth century was a time for change for the women of the world. The womens suffrage movement brought forth the concept of the importance womans rights (Womens 1). Regarded by many as a feminist play, Hedda Gabler investigates the consequences of excessive feminism
(Mazer 1). Hedda Gabler is portrayed as an extremely strong-willed woman. During the times in which this play is set, numerous womens rights and suffrage movements were occurring across the world. It can be inferred that Heddas assertive attitude is characteristic of the time period. To Hedda, it is preposterous that she would have to be under the power of a man. When Judge Brock implies that he will disavow all knowledge of the source of the gun that killed Lovborg if Hedda becomes “subject to his will and demands” (Ibsen 262). She states, “No longer free! No! Thats a thought that Ill never endure!” (Ibsen 262). At this time women across the world were adopting new ideas on their place in society. The atmosphere of the era provides an explanation of the source of Heddas manipulations.
The three aspects that explain Heddas motivations for manipulation shed much light on Heddas overall desire for manipulation. Truthfully, Hedda desires to manipulate the lives of others because she cannot manipulate her own life. She does not want to remain in her marriage, but she lacks the courage to get out of it. Because of the times and her situation, she feels that she cannot leave her husband. It seems as if these manipulations are a sick form of entertainment for Hedda. One could regard this play as a purely feminist work or as the story of a woman who has no regard for human life. In either way in which it is regarded, Ibsen realistically portrays the motivations of Hedda Gabler through his use of theme, setting, and current events.


Works Cited
Hemmer, Bjorn. “The dramatist Henrik Ibsen.” http://odin.dep.no/ud/nornytt/ibsen.html
Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays: A Dolls House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Mazer, Cary M. “Hedda Gabler.” http://www.english.upenn.edu/~cmazer/hedda.html.

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