Mastering Manipulation: Who’s Got the power now?



The “master of manipulation”, Hedda, as she may be known in one’s reading of the play strategically controls all those that she comes into close contact with. But, Henrick Ibsen, the writer clearly highlights the fluidity of roles that can be assumed in a play through acts 3 and 4 of the play. Initially, Hedda assumes the role of the master of manipulation, however, in acts 3 and 4 her power and position is challenged by Judge Brack who is just as conniving and manipulative as she is.  In act 4  Hedda’s power and ability to manipulate is impounded by Judge Brack who has been trying to gain control over her since the very beginning. However, Hedda’s strong-willed character paralyzed Bracks attempts to control her and this is something that could not remain unchallenged in this society. Traditionally, men were the center and women occupied the periphery in society during this time. Women were expected to be controlled and manipulated by men which were depicted in the play. Interestingly, Ibsen comments on these gender constructs in a strange yet blatant way as Brack and all of the other men were controlled by a woman. Atypical of a patriarchal society, men are required to regain any strength and power that has been lost to his inferior counterpart, a woman which is depicted in Act 4.  In Act 4, Ibsen shows how corrupt and the discourse of power is used to control those who are subjected to the authority, in this case, Judge Brack. After vocalizing his awareness of Hedda’s involvement in the death of LovBorg, Brack uses that to control Hedda. He maintains this control by convincing her that her involvement would not be brought to light once he keeps quiet.  Now that Hedda’s freedom depends on Bracks’ assurance, she finally grants him the role of the master of manipulation.



One thought on “Mastering Manipulation: Who’s Got the power now?”

  1. I get what you’re saying but I didn’t see her granting him anything. She kept talking about having the courage to just act. Which is why she got some what of a thrill of hearing about Lovborg’s suicide. So I believe her joyous piano tune right before she does the unspeakable is her taking that control Brack would have asserted over her and basically shows she’ll ultimately have the last say over her life and she’s happy and content about it.


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