Hedda Gabler:The Nature of control and Manipulation in Relationships

In Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen portrays Hedda Tesman as a character who likes maintains a certain level of  control and takes pride in the manipulation of others.  This is evident from the onset of the play, and throughout the two  first acts.  This could be as a result of Hedda stemming from being the daughter of a General, suggesting a certain level of hierarchy in class. Her high standards make it impossible to please her. She does not care about her husband, but she does not want any one to stand in the way of her husband getting his job.  Hedda  treats Tesman as she does Berte and Julle.

The first incident of Hedda asserting her control, is when she requests that  she does not care for the old piano being in the drawing room.  When Tesman suggest that he will exchange it, Hedda insists that she wants a new one.  Tesman’s  goal is to please Hedda materialistically, but she is not moved. He buys her an expensive house,which he believes will make her happy.  Tesman’s eagerness to please Hedda, would indirectly show the level of control that Hedda has in their relationship.

Hedda convinces Tesman to write a letter, a long letter in the next room, to Eilert Loveborg, just so that she could befriend  Mrs. Elvsted to indulge information about Loveborg.  the  fact that Loveborg is a rival of Tesman, Hedda needs to learn the weakness of Loveborg who happens to be up for the same job as her husband.  Hedda offers Eilert a drink, further exerting her power over him by taunting him to drink.  Here she is testing her power, to see if she would be the one who would make him drink, after being sober for so long.

Ibsen helps to bring to light by the end of Act 1 that Tesman’s character is that of a coward, which is the reason why he is so easily manipulated and controlled by Hedda.

In the end, Hedda admits that she wants to have control over a human being, considering she never had before.



One thought on “Hedda Gabler:The Nature of control and Manipulation in Relationships”

  1. Interesting observations. I particularly like how you made mention of some of the characteristics of Hedda and her relationships with not only Tesman but with others. Another interesting note made by you was in regards to the piano that Hedda asked Tesman to purchase for her while knowingly being aware of the financial restraints that her and George faced. This blog highlights the selfish nature of Hedda and some of the reasoning behind her actions.


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