"Hedda Gabler" by Ibsen

"Hedda Gabler" by Ibsen
“Hedda Gabler” by Ibsen
The play "Hedda Gabler" Ibsen wrote in 1890 in Munich, and it was published in the end of 1890. When “Hedda Gabler” was first published in 1890, it greatly puzzled both critics and theatrical producers because of its untypical narration, style and view points.

Though this play is very interesting for playing, because the main hero Hedda Gabler is very bright and interesting, and also because the main idea of the play is the place of women in the society in the new era. Hedda is the embodiment of the identity crisis of the middle-class woman during that transitional time. If women were to modify the accepted, limiting codes of behavior, what rules would the “new woman” follow? Hedda was belonging to both the old and the new, and that became a real dilemma for her.

The main character Hedda Gabler is not an easy character to get to know. It is important to say that Hedda was written as a theatrical work in the realm of contemporary realism, not as a historical story. So Hedda is a typical hero, but at the same time a very complicated one.
The key to understanding of the Hedda character lies in the title of the play. Hedda Gabler, above all, is the daughter of his father, General Gabler, who was a remarkable man unlike all other men around her.

HEDDA: Remember that I am the child of an old man—and a worn-out man too—or past his prime at any rate—Perhaps that has left its mark. (Ibsen)
Hedda is a child of the famous General Gabler, so she was used to luxury and high-class living. She has masculine leisure and tastes, but she can never be the son that the General would have wanted. Neither can Hedda be her mother’s daughter, because Hedda’s mother is completely absent from her life. So nobody had taught Hedda the feminine codes of behavior and etiquette, and also feminine view points and system of values. And that was very important for Hedda’s character and further life.

The only thing from her mother was a shabby old piano that she both valued and disdained. She didn’t discard it, but neither put it on public like she did with the pistols and the portrait of her father.
Soon Hedda married George Tesman, a scholar with good prospects but not as much money as Hedda was used to. Despite the fact that she liked him, she were not her husband’s wife. After Hedda and Tesman return from their honeymoon, Eilert Lovborg came into their life, who was Hedda’s former suitor. Lovborg posed a threat to the job Tesman believed would be his.

Hedda could choose as her motto «Noli me tangere» - «Do not touch me." She is one of those who is disgusting organically not only physical but also emotional human "touch", even when it comes from men she seemed in love with - Eylerte Levborge. All the earth for her was vulgar and ugly, but she wanted and needed beauty and luxury. She was looking for a hero, but of course couldn’t find him in a cozy, philistine world of her environment.
Hedda saw no hope for the future of her union with a respectable man. But also there is an idea that marriage can be nothing less than prostitution.

HEDDA: Then isn’t it an honourable thing to profit by one’s person? Don’t actresses and others turn their advantages into profit? I had not other capital. Marriage—I thought it was like buying into an annuity. (Ibsen)
Hedda liked everything connected with wealth and pleasures of life (such as servants and expensive clothes), and she was ambitious to make her mark in social circles. But she lack the social status, and also the inherited money to advance beyond her bourgeois desires.
Hedda wanted to control her destiny and make some real difference in a life, but she saw no value in wife and motherhood, so vicariously participates in the romance of Lövborg’s dissipations.

But life's role of Hedda is a tragic heroine. As a tragic heroine she killed Levborg’s "child" – she destroyed his manuscript, created by another woman Tea, whom she really hated. As Levborg for for her was not available, so one of a pair of pistols was given for Levborg to commit suicide, though he died only accidentally.
Hedda was a destroyer of not only the male world, she avenged the men’ world in which she could not find a proper place, although she did not belong to the world of women, because the last thing in her were feminist mindsets. Authentic women, such as Tea, with its timid feminine, fluffy, curly hair, Hedda hated and were almost physically repulsive. In herself she also hated being a woman, and killed her by using the second pistol.
The play has intriguing and not understandable to the end events. And Hedda’s suicide is also unexpected.

The final version:
Hedda’s despair is that there are doubtless so many chances of happiness in the world, but that she cannot discover them. It is the want of an object in life that torments her. (Ibsen)


Works cited:

Henrik Ibsen "Hedda Gabler" . Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Web. 24 July 2010

"Hedda Gabler" by Ibsen 8 of 10 on the basis of 1033 Review.