Henrik Ibsen’s play, “Hedda Gabler,” is an interesting story of a peculiar woman’s boredom with life. Hedda Gabler’s boredom and need for enjoyment causes her to manipulate the lives of those around her. Men love her; women envy her. This popularity makes Hedda an all-powerful character throughout the play. Undoubtedly, Hedda enjoys her power over others and is reasonably distraught when Judge Brack reveals that he knows Hedda gave Eilert Loevborg the pistol that killed him.
At this point, Hedda has a difficult decision to make; either become Brack’s sex slave, or immerse herself in scandal: one of her biggest fears. Regardless of her decision, Brack’s knowledge of the pistol’s true owner would destroy her. Each of her manipulative relationships would backfire on her. Of course, Hedda always gets what she wants and never relinquishes pow...
er. She creates her own choice: death. Hedda inevitable shoots herself at the end of “Hedda Gabler” because she realizes that she has lost all power and control when Brack blackmails her into being subservient to him.
Rather than living powerless among people she has no respect for, she chooses to die and does so “beautifully. ” Besides Hedda herself, Brack was the main benefactor to Hedda’s “beautiful” death. Had he not blackmailed her, Hedda may not have committed suicide. Brack proves to be just as manipulative as Hedda when he becomes one of Tesman’s entrusted by feeding Tesman information about his professorship and attempts to have an affair with Hedda. Hedda rejects his advances because of the scandal that an affair would cause.When Eilert dies and the opportunity arises to blackmail Hedda, Brack pounces to get what he wants from her
But you’ll have to answer one question. Why did you give Eilert Loevborg this pistol? And what conclusions will people draw when it is proved you did give it to him? HEDDA. [Bows her head. ] That’s true.
I hadn’t thought of that. BRACK. Well luckily there’s no danger as long as I hold my tongue. HEDDA. [Looks up at him. ] In other words, I’m in your power, Judge.
From now on, you’ve got your hold over me. BRACK. [Whispers, more slowly. Hedda, my dearest--believe me--I will not abuse my position. HEDDA.
Nevertheless, I’m in your power. Dependent on your will, and your demands. Not free. Still not free! [Rises passionately. ] No. I couldn’t bear that.
No. BRACK. [Looks half-derisively at her. ] Most people resign themselves to the inevitable, sooner or later.
HEDDA. [Returns his gaze. ] Possibly they do. (1277-8) Hedda did indeed resign herself to the inevitable, which was her own death.
Brack was obviously exaggerating when he said that he would not abuse his power over Hedda.In order to keep Brack quiet and avoid scandal, Hedda would have to do anything Brack wanted, which is slavery in itself. Hedda did the only thing she saw fit, which was killing herself to avoid the inevitable. Hedda’s manipulation of Eilert eventually backfired through Brack and, consequently, brought about her own demise.
Once lovers, Hedda and Eilert have an interesting relationship. In the play, Eilert returns to society after a hiatus and publishes a bestselling book that earns rave reviews. Hedda learns that Eilert and Mrs.Elvsted’s are having an affair and have written the manuscript to his new book, the sequel
to his first, together. Eilert and Mrs. Elvsted consider this hand-written manuscript their “child.
” Hedda cannot stand to see Eilert happy and seeks out to destroy him. Hedda does so by causing him to drink, which made him lose his manuscript (which Tesman recovered), and burning his manuscript. By burning his manuscript, she effectively destroyed everything he had to live for. When Brack brings the news that Eilert has died, Mrs. Elvsted cannot believe it and is deeply saddened.
Eilert’s death actually moves Mrs. Elvsted and Tesman to re-write the manuscript in Eilert’s honor. Hedda, however, seems happy about Eilert’s death. She asks Brack about the details of Eilert’s supposed suicide and where he shot himself: HEDDA. [To BRACK.
] Through the breast, you said? BRACK. That is what I said. HEDDA. Not through the head? BRACK. Through the breast, Mrs. Tesman.
HEDDA. The breast. Yes; yes. That’s good, too. BRACK.
Why, Mrs. Tesman? HEDDA. Oh—no, I didn’t mean anything. (1275) Hedda wanted Eilert to have a beautiful death, or a traditional suicide.
She is later disappointed to find out that Brack lied to all of them. The pistol accidentally went off in Eilert’s jacket at a party and shot him in the lower stomach, causing him to bleed to death. Hedda is extremely unhappy with the way Eilert’s died and eventually dies a beautiful death herself. Hedda and Eilert’s relationship displays Hedda’s obsession with manipulating others to the fullest. Another obsession of Hedda’s is to live a “beautiful” life and meet her own personal standard of living. She is actually amused at how much Tesman tries to succeed professionally and dismisses his attempts at frugality.
marries him, not because she loves him, but because she felt it was time for her to be married. Hedda believed that she was past her prime in terms of beauty and thought Tesman would be successful. It is quite appropriate that Ibsen titled the play after Hedda’s name before marriage, “Hedda Gabler. ” Despite marrying Tesman, she never relinquishes power and never considers herself subservient to her husband. Not once does she allow Tesman to refer to them as “we” and only calls him by his first name, George, once throughout the play.
Tesman and Eilert are competing for a professorship and after Tesman reads Eilert’s manuscript, Tesman admits that he is “jealous” of Eilert because he could never produce such work. When Tesman learns that Hedda has burned Eilert’s manuscript, he was mortified at first, but when Hedda says, “I did it for your sake, George” (1273), Tesman is ecstatic at the prospect that Hedda might have shown some affection for him. In turn, Hedda is disgusted at Tesman altogether because not only is he ignorant, but as soon as Hedda reluctantly tells him about her pregnancy, he completely forgets about Eilert’s manuscript.Tesman’s lack of character and shallowness come to the foreground her, two reasons why Hedda wishes that she never married Tesman to begin with. Hedda’s boredom and manipulation of others ends up bringing about her own demise.
Her lies fooled Tesman and Eilert, but Brack found a flaw in her plan and went to work on it. Hedda is faced with a hopeless situation when Brack threatens her with scandal and blackmails her. She responds to her hopelessness the only way she
knew how: a beautiful death.
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