Hedda Tesman is the epitome of someone who “knows how to hold em, and knows how to fold em”. In the first two acts, the audience is taken through a whirlwind of emotions with the Tesman as they watch Hedda poker face her way through most of her relationships/conversations.
The play spends a great deal just introducing Hedda. Her characterization comes across as if she is snobbish but a likeable character. We see Tesman speaking amount the expenses he has gone through just for her, Berta is concerned that she might not be able to please her and Aunt Julie also wants to make a ‘good’ first impression, hoping to socially meet up to her standards. It is obvious that she has high standards, but when we meet her for ourselves, it is clear that her situation is much more complexed than painted out to be; the audience then becoming the first entity to be outrightly ‘swung’.
We learn that Hedda is instable ungrateful/unhappy and manipualitive, and every other character in this world either is too blind or dumb to the fact. Hedda’s instability is seen with the door/curtains, with her lack of care towards Tesman’s slippers but sentiments towards her old piano, and usage (or lack their of) of her pistols. Secondly, Hedda is clearly unhappy with her marriage and her living situation, but only sincerely expresses this to Brock and Løvborg, having her husband clueless to her real feelings. Thirdly, Hedda brings forth a level of manipulation in just about every interaction. She talks Mrs. Elvsted into disclosing personal information (something Hedda would never do in return to Mrs. Elvsted). She had her husband spend most of his money thinking he’s making her happy, when she has knows her marriage is just an opportunity that is now keeping her bounded. She toys with Brock and Løvborg, puppeteering them and leading them on (and in Løvborg’s case, seemingly rekindling an old flame that we are unsure she actually wants to burn). It is noteworthy to examine why she is only transparent with these men, making one ask, “What will the payout be?”
So far Hedda has played a good game, never yet putting all her cards on the table, never really giving any tells. I’m interested in seeing where she will take us next.