Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen Essay
Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
Henrik Ibsen writes realistically, meaning that he writes in a way which is relatable and constant to the time period and characters. He doesn’t get overly dramatic. There are multiple themes in Hedda Gabler such as Manipulation, Wealth, Reputation, and Death. Since it is a play, it does not have a point of view.
Hedda Gabler is a play that takes place entirely in the living room and another room off to the side in the fashionable side of Christiana, Norway, in 1890 or earlier. The newlywed couple of Jurgen and Hedda Tesman come back from their 6 month honeymoon and wake to find that Jurgan Tesman’s aunt Julle has come for a visit. This scene establishes Hedda’s disinterest in Tesman, as she is rude to his aunt and him. A woman named Mrs. Elvested arrives and informs the crowd that Tesmans rival, Ejlert, is back in town and she is concerned that being back in town will cause him to fall back into old alcoholic habits. Later, Judge Brack arrives and brings gossip from the town. He tells Tesman that Ejlert is a candidate for the professor position that he wants stirring up worry between Tesman and Hedda.
Judge Brack and Hedda have a private conversation and decide to become confidants and Hedda confesses that she is bored with Tesman and unpleased with the house he bought her. Tesman arrives back and drinks with Brack while Hedda and Ejlert make conversation. Hedda is bored and decides to pit Ejlert and Mrs. Elvested against each other, causing Ejlert to start drinking again and upset Mrs. Elvested. Tesman, Brack, and Ejlert leave for a party that Brack is throwing. Mrs. Elvested is concerned but Ejlert promises to return to escort her home.
Mrs. Elvested goes in another room to sleep when Tesman comes home. He announces to Hedda that he has Ejlert’s manuscript that he dropped when he was walking home and he intends to return in. Brack arrives and informs them that Ejlert got arrested. Brack leaves and then Ejlert gets there and tells Mrs. Elvested that he destroyed the manuscript, unaware that Tesman is in possession of it. He later confesses to Hedda that he lost it and is now
suicidal. Hedda gives him a pistol and tells him to die beautifully. She burns his manuscript.
Act four begins with everyone dressed in black for Tesman’s Aunt Rina’s death. Mrs. Elvested arrives and tells everyone that Ejlert is in the hospital. Then, Brack arrives and tells them that he is dead, a gunshot wound to the chest. Tesman and Mrs. Elvested try to reconstruct Ejlert’s manuscript and Brack tells Hedda that his death was messy and an accident. He also tells her that scandal will probably befall her. She goes into a side room and plays the piano for a bit before shooting herself. Conflict, Climax, Resolution
The conflicts in the story are that Mrs. Elvsted is distraught and has left her husband, Ejlert could start drinking again, the Judge wants Hedda in one way or another, and Tesman has to compete for his professorship. The climax is when Hedda burns Ejlert’s manuscript and then aides in his suicide. The denouement is when the judge explains everything and Mrs. Elvested and Tesman work on reconstructing the manuscript.
Hedda Gabler is the antagonist of the story, causing most of the conflicts. She was raised in a wealthy family and when she married Tesman she had to accommodate to much less fortune than she is used to. She is manipulative and cruel to most of the characters in the play.
Jurgan Tesman is Hedda’s husband. Although he is vastly intelligent, he is oblivious to her cruelty. He tries very hard to please her and went to great lengths to buy her a house a support her and provide everything she needs. He was raised by his Aunt Julle. Judge Brack is essential to the story because he is Hedda’s closest confidant. He also brings news to the story; he serves as sort of a gossip source.
He visits the Tesman residence often, as he is close with both Tesman and Hedda. Ejlert Lovberg is Tesman’s long-time academic rival. He is Tesman’s only competitor for a professorship. He is back in town and has a published novel with good reviews. He also has a manuscript for another novel. He once shared a close relationship with Hedda. Mrs. Elvested hired Ejlert as a tutor for her children but grew attached and now acts as his assistant/secretary and travels with him for his writing. She is concerned about his drinking problem. Mrs. Elvested also went to school with Hedda where she was bullied by her.