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Hedda Gabler: Critical Analysis of Dialogue

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The first passage transpires at the beginning of the second act which opens with Hedda loading her father’s pistols prior to Judge Brack’s arrival in her garden. Hedda’s loading a pistol in her drawing-room of all places speaks to how defiant she is of social conventions. It is also a dark foreshadowing of how she will soon contrive a man’s death from the comforts of this same drawing-room. General Gabler’s pistols are reminiscent of Hedda’s old aristocratic life. Hedda’s using them indicates that she is more her father’s daughter than she is her husband’s wife.

Pistols are considered masculine objects and are often associated with authority and power. Hedda’s fascination with this male world is indicative of the misery she experiences as a woman in a patriarchal society. She is restricted in her role as a female and faces long, dull and oppressive days. While it would be an oversimplification to claim that Hedda’s sadism and cruelty are entirely the product of patriarchal oppression, it is not too much to say that provincialism and patriarchy characterize the social world Hedda engages in war against. Hedda takes delight in brandishing her pistols and feels empowered and free when holding these instruments of domination.

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Hedda and Judge Brack spend the length of the play discreetly seeking to dominate one another. While Brack acts according to the social rules, Hedda is prepared to behave in a way that is contrary to others and her extraordinarily dark sense of humor is on display in this scene. Ibsen foreshadows Hedda’s suicide by exhibiting just how detached Hedda seems from how things are “normally” done.

The first two lines of dialogue appear to be normal and friendly. Hedda and Brack refer to one another politely, and they are operating well within their established social boundaries. However, Hedda’s following line, ‘I’m going to shoot you sir!’ is then a shocking satire of their previous greeting. By calling him ‘sir’ as she threatens to shoot him, she mocks their superficial civility. This is not a trivial threat, as Hedda does actually go on to shoot at Judge Brack. In doing so, she further exposed how detached she is from the society that surrounds her. To joke about shooting at people is shocking enough but to actually do it is astonishing. In this scene, we see the tension between society and the individual, with Brack on the side of society, and Hedda expressing herself in radically individual terms.

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Hedda Gabler: Critical Analysis of Dialogue. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 19, 2022, from
“Hedda Gabler: Critical Analysis of Dialogue.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
Hedda Gabler: Critical Analysis of Dialogue. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Aug. 2022].
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