In Ibsen's 'Hedda Gabler', the balance of power within Hedda and Judge Brack's relationship shifts from Hedda being in control from Act Two until the end of Act Four, where the power belongs to Brack. The shift in power is used to heighten the tragedy at the end of the play as Hedda is used to being in control of everything and everyone around her, and she releases that she cannot escape Brack's power, due to the social context of the time of the play. To show the shift in power, I would direct the actors playing Judge Brack and Hedda, using a naturalistic acting style as Ibsen intended, in the following way.
I would follow Ibsen's casting ideas for Hedda, '... a woman of twenty-nine. ' etc. She would stand tall with her head high, showin...
g her stuck-up nature. I would also follow Ibsen's casting ideas for Brack: '... Brack is forty-five... ' etc. He would be older than Hedda to show that he should be more powerful than her. He would also stand tall as Hedda does, and would speak loudly to ensure everyone in the room acknowledges his presence, showing he likes to have power. At the beginning of Act Two, Brack is in Hedda's back garden about to enter the house.
This implies that the balance of power is equal as entering through the back shows the two are good friends. However, this is not so, as Hedda says "This'll teach you to enter houses by the back door. " This says to the audience that they are not equal; Brack just thinks they are, or wants to believe he is more powerful
than Hedda. At the same time, Hedda is in the house, loading a pistol. I would put her on a higher level in an upper bedroom, looking down into the garden at Brack.
This, paired with Hedda holding the pistol, would symbolically show that Hedda is higher in power in their relationship. Hedda speaks playfully, "I'm going to shoot you, Judge Brack. " But Brack does not find it funny. "No, no, no! Don't aim that thing at me! " He shouts angrily as he is scared Hedda will hit him. Being scared and not being able to control Hedda's actions puts him in a weaker position, and this makes him angry. Hedda says "This'll teach you... ", this puts Hedda in a position of higher power, implying she will teach him a lesson, such as a parent teaches a child.
Judge Brack continues to speak angrily as he likes to be in power and wants control over Hedda. Hedda says "Oh dear! Did I hit you? " in a very patronising tone, again treating Brack as a child, showing the audience where the power lies. Later in Act Two, Hedda and Brack discuss Hedda's marriage and Brack suggests Hedda cheats on Tesman. However, Hedda remains in control at this point. Hedda sits on a sofa and Brack sits in a chair close to it. Brack leans forward in his chair towards Hedda, as she leans back.
This shows Hedda has control over Brack as he 'follows' her. The audience sees that Hedda has the most power in the relationship, as Brack opens up emotionally to her; "I've been longing so much for you to come home. "
And she rejects him by talking about herself; "So have I. " There seems to be a shift in power, as Brack is able to coax Hedda into revealing her feelings for Tesman and her unhappiness. However, this changes at the end of their conversation. Brack suggests Hedda cheats on Tesman using a metaphor.
Brack would walk over to Hedda and sit next to her on the sofa, he would speak slowly and emphatically, making sure Hedda understood the subtext of "Why not jump out and stretch your legs a little? " Hedda responds with rejection, "I'm not the jumping sort. " She would wave one hand backwards, gesturing rejection, and look away from Brack. This shows that Hedda still has control of the situation. Despite Brack's arrogance, she still chooses what she wants to do. Brack would then lean back from her, showing he accepts her response, and that he holds little power.
In Act Four, however, there is a major shift in power as Brack tells Hedda the truth about Loevborg's death. Hedda is talking, almost to herself, about Loevborg's death being beautiful. She would have her back to him, looking up in a daze; Brack would smile quickly to himself as he is able to take away Hedda's 'illusion' and takes pleasure in having this power. He takes advantage of this power, giving Hedda small pieces of information at a time, almost teasing her. Hedda would speak fearfully and angrily, desperate for Brack to tell her what has happened, giving Brack more power.
Later, Hedda sits on a footstool and Brack stands over her. This links back to the beginning where the person with most
power stands higher than the weaker one. Hedda whispers but still speaks worriedly, however Brack speaks softly, showing he is calm and in control. Brack speaks slowly in the same patronising tone as Hedda in Act Two, asking her questions he already knows the answer to, "You didn't leave the room while he was here? " , "No", "Think again. " Showing, again, he has the power in the relationship as he is able to manipulate Hedda into doing what he wants.
The power clearly belongs to Brack as he leans down to her and says "No, Hedda Gabler. Not as long as I hold my tongue. " Brack would smile suggestively, showing he is blackmailing her and that he is in complete power. The audience knows that Brack is in control as he says "Yes a scandal. The thing you're so frightened of. " He would stand with his legs shoulder-width apart, arms crossed, standing upright, showing he is confident in himself and that the balance of power has shifted completely to him.
Brack reassures Hedda that he is not blackmailing her, but his actions say differently as he gets closer and closer to her and begins to whisper. Hedda speaks nervously, avoiding Brack's eyes as she realises her weaker position. At the end of the play, we believe the power in the relationship belongs to Brack, as he has control over Hedda and she is unable to escape this. However, the fact that Hedda commits suicide shows us that she has escaped; she has taken control over her own fate and therefore is still the most powerful in the relationship.
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