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Character Analysis Of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

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Being raised in the upper class is an amazing privilege that some people only dream of. Some individuals work hard to achieve this goal, and some are luckily born into it. Hedda Gabler is one of these people. Hedda is the daughter of General Gabler. She is very spoiled as a child, and she has the opportunity to have luxury items, such as extravagant clothing. Hedda assumed that she would always be a wealthy person living an extremely opulent life, or so she thought. Hedda ended up marrying a middle-class man named George Tesman. She did not want to marry him, but he was the only good man whom had been an option for her. “The fact that the title of the play is not Hedda Tesman but Hedda Gabler, like the way some of her admirers know how to flatter her by calling her by her maiden name, is a clear pointer to her unwillingness to accept her role as a wife to an unprepossessing husband whose undoubted infatuation with her is attenuated by his desire to continue collecting material for a work of what appears to be dry-as-dust scholarship”. She is now living in the middle class, and it is evident that she is miserable. It seems that she is pregnant as well, which makes her life worse, even though most people would be excited about a pregnancy. “The work reveals Hedda Gabler as a selfish, cynical woman bored by her marriage to George Tesman”. Being born into the upper class has impacted Hedda Gabler in many ways, including the way she conveys herself, how she treats others, and how she makes it obvious that she does not want to be in the middle class.

Hedda conveys herself to be a very selfish and evil person. Even at the beginning of the story, the Tesman’s maid, Berta tells Aunt Julie how she is worried to work for Hedda. “… I’m so afraid I won’t satisfy the new mistress… Because she’s so particular about things”). Hedda has Berta take the covers off of all the chairs, because she cannot stand to see these covers. Even though the Tesman’s will most likely be using this room every day, Hedda makes Berta do this anyway. She wants the house to look as luxurious as possible. Since Hedda is so high class, she worries lower class people, like Berta, into thinking that they are not good enough. Berta already knows that she will have to as much as she can to satisfy Hedda, even though she probably will not be doing enough in Hedda’s eyes. As soon as Hedda’s character is introduced, she immediately starts complaining about the sun coming through the window. “Uch! Look at that. The maid opened the door. I’m drowning in all this sunlight” (Ibsen)When Aunt Julie brings George his slippers, he is delighted. He is so excited to have them and goes over to Hedda show her. “Oh no thanks, I really don’t care to”. George attempts to explain to Hedda that these slippers carry many memories, but she just does not care.

Hedda continuously shows that she does not care about her husband. Even though he planned a six-month honeymoon, she still complains. Hedda was the cause of Lovborg’s suicide. She burned his manuscript because she felt that it was Lovborg and Thea’s child. Even though she knew how upset he was about losing the manuscript, she still lied to his face, even though she could have done the right thing and gave it back to him. “And Hedda, out of vengeance, boredom, frustration and the need to control, begins to coolly plot the destruction of her former lover” (Kaufman). Hedda even gave Lovborg one of her pistols to kill himself with. She continuously convinced them that this would be the right thing to do. She did not once second guess her actions, even though she had many opportunities to. She decided that Lovborg being dead would be best for her. She does not think of anyone except herself, thus proving her terrible personality.

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Hedda Gabler treats people terribly and says things with little to compassion. In the story, it seems as if she has no respect for people. At the beginning of the story, she makes this evident. George’s Aunt Julie arrives to the Tesman’s home wearing a new hat. George points out this new hat. “My my- isn’t this a fine, elegant hat you’ve got for yourself”. Aunt Julie tells George that she bought the hat due to the fact that she did not want Hedda to be embarrassed of her if they go out on a walk together. Aunt Julie ends up talking off the hat and putting it down near the sofa. When Hedda arrives into the room, she ends up pointing out the hat and makes rude remarks about it. After Aunt Julie tells Hedda that it is hers, Hedda does not apologize for making fun of the hat. Julie ends up going home shortly after, and George asks Hedda if Aunt Julie seemed to be acting different. Hedda could not tell, and then proceeds to ask if maybe it was because of the hat business. George tells her that it was most likely not, and Hedda proceeds to be rude, and says how Aunt Julie should not be leaving her hat around like that.

Hedda is very disrespectful to Aunt Julie, even though Aunt Julie goes out of her way to make Hedda’s life better. Aunt Julie even took out a mortgage out on her annuity to help pay for these luxury items for Hedda, even though that annuity is the only thing she has to live on. Hedda finds joy in manipulating people into doing what she wants. Further into the story, one of Hedda’s old classmates, Thea, comes over. “She insists on being on first-name terms with her, and she wants to sit close to her, stroke her hair, and share confidences. But she can also be aggressive toward Mrs. Elvsted, as when she threatens to burn her hair”. At first, they are having small talk, and then Hedda brings up Eilert Lovborg. “[Casually] It seems to me that Eilert Lovborg’s been living up there for about three years, hasn’t he?”. Thea is slightly surprised to hear Hedda mentioning him, and the two start talking about him. Thea only says casual things about him, such as that he used to come by her house and read to the children. Hedda wants to know more information, so she starts sweettalking Thea into telling her what she wants to hear. Hedda’s interest in Mrs. Elvsted can, of course, be read as an attempt to get her to reveal secrets involving Lovborg…”. Thea mentions how Lovborg has started drinking, and she is worried that he will start drinking again. Later on into the story when Lovborg comes over, Hedda tries to convince him to drink. “Though Eilert had wisely decided that teetotalism was the only safe policy for him, Hedda inveigles him into going off on a drinking bout with her husband and the sinister Judge Brack”. She keeps manipulating him, even though she knows that he used to be an alcoholic. “Good Lord, cold punch isn’t exactly poison, you know”. Hedda does not even think about Lovborg’s drinking could impact his life again. She just wants to have the power to manipulate whoever she wants.

Hedda Gabler makes it obvious that she does not want to be in the middle class. She is absolutely miserable not being able to live as comfortably as she used to. “A lady of 29 and with a certain aristocratic elegance about her, Hedda feels that she has married beneath herself”. She does not have much left from the upper class, except the pistols that her father gave her. “We are not allowed to forget that her father was General Gabler, whereas her husband, her elder by some four years, is a cultural historian who is short of money and has only fairly tenuous prospects of becoming a professor”. Having her father be General Gabler makes Hedda feel better about herself, and she feels as if it makes her more respected. Hedda wants people to see her as a high-class member of society, and by having a father of high rank, she believes that people will see her as this type of person. Hedda even tells people that she does not love her husband. “Hedda also rejects love and marriage by telling both Lovborg and Brack that she does not love Tesman and that she does not want to talk about love”. When Hedda and Judge Brack are conversing, Hedda brings up how she did not enjoy the six-month honeymoon that George had provided for her. Brack states “I wished you were back home every single day. To which Hedda replies, “The whole time I was wishing the same thing”. Hedda said that the trip was boring, and all George did was spend time in libraries. “Six whole months never meeting with a soul who knew the slightest thing about her circle”. Hedda admitted to Brack that the only reason she married George was because [She] danced herself out… [Her] time was up”. Even the thought of having a child with George upsets Hedda. This makes her believe that she will be stuck in the middle class with George forever if this happens. She wants to get out of this situation, but she does not have many choices on what to do. When Hedda ends up killing herself, it can be analyzed in different ways. In one aspect, she did not want to have to deal with the Eilert scandal, while another reason for her suicide could be that she could not stand living in the middle class anymore. Hedda was evidently miserable, and knew she had to get out of this horrid situation.

Hedda Gabler is an overall terrible person. She was selfish, manipulative, and only thought about herself. Being in the middle class was such a terrible thing to happen to Hedda in her opinion and being pregnant makes this worse. If Hedda is pregnant, she will lose her slim figure, and she definitely does not want this to happen. She wants to look the absolute best that she can possibly look. She caused an unnecessary suicide due to her being the selfish, evil person she was. She treats people with no respect for no reason whatsoever. Even though Aunt Julie had to take out extra money to attempt to meet Hedda’s needs, it still was not enough. Hedda still complained and made Aunt Julie feel bad about herself. She makes her new family spend ridiculous amounts of money on her, just so she can have the best things in life, even though they can barely afford it. She talked about her husband behind his back, and even manipulated people who trusted her with their secrets. She flirted with other men, even though she is married. ‘The title of the play is Hedda Gabler. My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda, as a personality, is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than as her husband’s wife”. Nothing will ever be good enough for Hedda except living a rich lifestyle, and this is why her life ended the way that it did.

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Character Analysis Of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. (2021, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
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