Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” depicts a neurotic woman who is unhappy with her life and marriage. Because she was a daddy’s girl and never attained anything in her lifetime, she will go to great lengths to make the life of those that achieved their desires and goals a living hell. In the play we see that Hedda had a good life, but in her mind, she did not seem to think so, and therefore she saw the things and people in her life as boring.
Freud believed that events in our childhood have a great influence on our lives, shaping our personality, whether it be from good experiences or bad experiences (McLeod). Hedda had always been a daddy’s girl, seeing that she was the daughter of a military general, and this was her upbringing. Females of her time never learned to shoot guns or ride horses, which brings to the issue that she never learned any feminine traits. On a positive note, she was an ambitious woman that will not put up with nonsense as she displays this attitude throughout the play. But there are a lot of negative traits that will impact Hedda and how she will adapt not only to society, but her marriage and people in her life. Hedda would do anything to have power and control over anyone and would make their life a living nightmare if they did not do what she wanted.
Hedda Gabler was married to George Tesman, who came from a middle-class family and lived the middle-class life with his two aunts, Julia and Rena. Since Hedda considers herself a member of the upper bourgeoisie, she feels as if she is married into a lower social class that she truly despises. Hedda married George for financial security, but this would possibly go downhill if he did not get the professorship position that he was seeking. This bothered Hedda, and she let George know how she felt about not getting a horse or a house butler, the things that Hedda desired but could not get at a middle- or low-class level. Because she married for money, she would not be happy with everything else in the marriage, and George was too naïve to see why Hedda really wanted to marry him since he loved her dearly and saw her as the most beautiful woman on earth.
Hedda clearly desired Eilert Lovborg, but she rejected him because she did not want to break a social taboo. This relationship ended on a bad note because she had threatened to shoot him. Also, she sent him away and married George Tesman, whom she did not like, let alone love, to be supported comfortably. The two would eventually run into each other again at a party, where he tries to convince her to have sexual relations with him, but she declines because it could lead to scandal, which Hedda feared very much. But Hedda would taunt his masculinity and say something about his relationship with Thea Elvsted and lead him into drinking again. Because of this, Hedda romanticized his weakness, confusing his lack of self-control with god-like courage. Being the mean person that she is, Hedda convinces Lovborg to take his own life. She saw his death as noble instead of a sordid accident.
Even though Hedda still had feelings for Loveborg and being unhappily married to George Tesman, only one person would come in her way with how she feels, and that is an old school rival by the name Thea Elvsted. Like Hedda, Thea was married for financial security and not happy in her marriage, though she was more sane than rival Hedda. Thea Elvsted leaves her husband to follow Eilert Lovborg, which leaves her at risk for losing her social and financial security. The thought of Thea being with Lovborg bothers Hedda, especially when Thea says that she helped Lovborg with writing his manuscripts, which Lovborg and Elvsted called their “love child” and helping him recover from alcoholism. This angered Hedda to the point that she burned the manuscript that Lovborg and Thea were working on.
Since Hedda had so much power and control over others, there was one man that will turn the tables against her. Judge Brack seemed to share some similarities with Hedda. Both were smart and were intuitive to pick up on information that is not explicit. Brack seemed to more intuitive when it came to getting Hedda to confessing to her sins. He seems to be the only person that can see through her taunting and destructive behavior and use reverse psychology on her, especially when he hears about Eilert Lovborg’s suicide. Brack knew that Hedda had something to do with it because it was one of her guns that was found at the scene of the shooting because he saw these guns when she was shooting at him at her house, so he tries to use his knowledge that Eilert used Hedda’s pistol to blackmail her into having an affair with him, which she did not want to do, nor did she want to be responsible for Eilert’s suicide. When she gets by this blackmail, she chooses the cowards way out to escape from a situation that she created.
In the end, Hedda dies from a self-inflicted gun shot to the heart, because she did not want to live life dealing with scandal and the responsibilities of becoming a mother, nor could she live with the fact that she made Lovborg commit suicide. She had a great life and a husband that loved her dearly and would do anything for her, but her neurotic mind told her otherwise, which caused her to have hatred toward others that attained their goals and had successful lives because she did not do these things for herself, so she finds everyone a bore, and even bores herself- to death, essentially.