Hedda Gabler: The Deceptive Despondant Nature of Mrs. Tesman

“Good god, people don’t do such things”   -Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler


Hedda Gabler, the modern Greek tragedy written during the late 1800’s by Henrik Johan Ibsen has been acknowledged as the most compelling and famous of plays during it’s time period (1890). The play, divided into four acts, is centered around the Tesman couple, George, an aspiring scholar and his wife Hedda who is the daughter of a general. Other prominent characters of utmost importance are Miss Juliane Tesman, Judge Brack, Mrs. Elvsted and later Eilert Lovborg who in some way or the other helps to unravel many of the underlying issues present in the play.

The play uncovers many secrets, hidden agendas and deception merely at the hands of Hedda Tesman who admittedly states that she is completely bored with her life and doesn’t really love her husband Tesman . Hedda’s deceptive despondent nature is captured through her restless and relentless spirit and the unhappy circumstances which she has landed herself in. Hedda is painted as a ravager whose main goal is to bring destruction and confusion to those who have become closest or most familiar with her. A prime scenario is with Miss Tesman, an upstanding lady who adores her nephew Tesman and his new wife Hedda. Miss Tesman, who tries to live up to Hedda’s standard of living by purchasing a new hat is later insulted by Hedda who intentionally discredits Miss Tesman’s selection by suggesting that the hat was of such poor quality that she attributes it to her maid Berta, this she later admits to Judge Brack.  Hedda in many instances is unable to control her devious ways and admits that she does not know what comes over her in an effort to have her actions and rude comments dismissed without due caution.

Ibsen illustrates the common structure of women demonstrated through Hedda who married not for love but for some sort of escape. Although Tesman is not as wealthy as Hedda would like and is considered to be below her standards, she is seen still as a deprived female unable to fully express herself which results in her snug and deceptive nature. In many instances, Hedda’s manipulative ways has destructive consequences particularly when it comes to the demise of Eilert Lovborg, which she encourages by voluntarily providing the emotionally unstable Lovborg with a pistol that he later uses to end his own life.

Hedda Gabler demonstrates the actions of the main character who is deprived of self expression and as a result engages in manipulative malice in an effort to express the many frustrations that she faces. Hedda Gabler in some small way can herself be seen as a victim beneath the villain who is desperate for her own sense of identity and place in a world away from her father and husbands shadow.


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