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Hedda Gabler


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A: Henrik Ibsen Pf: 1891, Munich Pb: 1890 Tr: 1891 G: Trag. in 4 acts; Norwegian prose S: Tesman's home, Norway, 1880s C: 3m, 4fHedda Gabler has married the boring academic Jørgen Tesman. After a long honeymoon the now pregnant Hedda looks forward to a life of tedium, relieved only by visits from a family friend, Judge Brack. Another surprise visitor is Ejlert Løvborg, with whom she was formerly very close. Through the efforts of Hedda's friend Thea Elvsted, the dissolute Løvborg has become a reformed character and has written an amazing thesis, which will secure the professorship sought by Tesman. When invited out to a male gathering, Løvborg refuses, until challenged by Hedda to celebrate his new-found strength. However, he succumbs to alcohol and in his drunken state loses his manuscript. When it is found, Hedda deliberately burns it, burning his and Thea's ‘child’. She gives the desperate Løvborg one of her father's pistols, so that he will commit a beautiful suicide. He shoots himself in the stomach, and there is the threat of a scandal when Hedda's pistol is found. Judge Brack is prepared to conceal the evidence if Hedda will offer him sexual favours. While Tesman and Thea try to reconstruct the thesis from Løvborg's notes, Hedda shoots herself.

A: Henrik Ibsen Pf: 1891, Munich Pb: 1890 Tr: 1891 G: Trag. in 4 acts; Norwegian prose S: Tesman's home, Norway, 1880s C: 3m, 4f

In contrast with most of Ibsen's women characters, who tend to be long-suffering and more capable than his men, he here creates one of the most destructive female characters since Lady Macbeth. Hedda, who continues to use her maiden name and whose decision to marry Tesman is never satisfactorily explained, thrills to her power over Løvborg, urging him to a beautiful death, but succeeding only in creating an act that is ‘ludicrous and despicable’. Her own death is unexpected; it would be perhaps a more tragic outcome if she had to live on with Tesman.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Henrik Ibsen (1828—1906) Norwegian dramatist


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