Hedda Gabler


Theplay ‘’ depicts a marriage between the daughter of anaristocratic general and a young academician GeorgeTesman. Although George Tesman loves Hedda, she does not reciprocatethe same love and is depicted as unhappy, discontent and outwardlyannoyed by everyone. The interpretation of the play is that, Hedda isan idealistic heroine struggling with society identity she becomes avictim of circumstance as well as a manipulative villain. Hedda feelsbored with marriage life unlike her younger days and this becomesclear as the play progresses that she did not marry George for lovebut married to escape the boring nature her life has turned to (HeddaGabler: Play 27).

Theuse of the title ‘HeddaGabler’has great significant in the way the protagonist is displayed inregard to her class and relationship with Tesman (Puchner656).Ibsen explained that the reason for giving the play the title ‘HeddaGabler’was intentionally aimed to indicate Hedda ambiguous personality asthat of her father’s daughter and not as Tesmans’s wife.Therefore, the question is why did Ibsen portray Hedda in thepersonality of her father’s daughter and not as Tesman’s wife?

Inparticular, Hedda has nothing common with George, ‘shehates Tesman, misses her old life (her aristocratic life) and her oldidentity (her Gabler identity).’ As the play unfolds, the variousepisodes in the play clearly depict Hedda resentment in marriage toTesman. When conversing with Judge Brake and her old schoolmate Mrs.Elvsted (HeddaGabler: Play 30),Hedda revealsthat she married to escape life’s boredom and thought George wouldbe famous one day in his scholarly aspirations.

Thetitle ‘’ insinuates that, Hedda was an aristocraticdaughter who still behaves and thinks that she is still entitled tothe aristocratic class rather than falling for her husband’sbourgeoisie class. Gabler was a general in the military and as ayoung girl he would carry Hedda proudly along the streets and provideher with luxurious live. This is evident when Tesman vividly tellsHedda that he can no longer afford the classy live she was used to orluxurious housekeeping she was used to. In this sense, Hedda is thusportrayed as living in her old self. It is this obsession with thepast that makes her convince Lovborg to commit suicide (HeddaGabler: Play 28).

Inthe play, the author has indicated the deep affection that resultswhen Hedda meets her old school classmate Mrs. Thea Elvstedostensibly due to their class. In addition, this aspect ofaristocracy is conspicuous in the way she broke her intellectualfriendship with Eilert who was an alcoholic she broke with Lovborgto avoid a scandal of associating with alcoholic. In particular, theconversation between Hedda and Brake shows that Hedda did not getmarried by Tesman for love although he was the only admirer who hadproposed for her. In this way, Ibsen indicates why he did not use thetitle ‘HeddaTesman’the couples love is false compared to the love Gabler had for herdaughter.

Onanother front, the title used as ‘HeddaGabler’could have been used as a reflection of unchanged personality byHedda. Hedda has a different personality which can only be explainedusing Freud psychoanalysis perspective (Puchner756).It is hard to tell what Hedda wants and sometimes what she wantsillustrate her as having insane personality. In the play, Hedda’saims and motives illustrate secret personality this could be thereason the title still retained her maiden name.

Overall,the symbolic use of the title ‘HeddaGabler’is to a great extent an illustration of how Hedda fails to adjust tothe married life of the bourgeoisie. Hedda was used to aristocraticlife, and this explains her boredom, cherishes and reminisces youngerdays of her life. Hedda does not hesitate to tell friends-Judge Brackhow she is bored in her marriage with Tesman. During theconversation, it is apparent that Hedda does not even consider beenpart of the bourgeois life by having a child with Tesman(: Play 26).For instance, Hedda is seen as refusing to admit that she is pregnantostensibly because she does not want links with her husband Georgein this way we understand why the Ibsen used Hedda Gabbler and notHedda Tesman (Puchner756).

Inthe same way, Hedda was used to the good life and constantly hopesthat life would be good this is shown by how she muses about Tesmanway of making a living. It is also evident that the aristocraticnature of Hedda makes her unsympathetic to Tesman. For instance,Hedda detests Tesman using a ‘we’ connotation to refer theirmarriage (HeddaGabler: Play 25).In another instance, we are shown how George tries to assure her wifethat they are at least well off by saying “Well,at least we have the house, even if I can’t buy you any more stuff”(: Play 26).Heddareminds George that he had promised that they would “livein the society&quot(possibly the aristocratic way of life she had been used to)(: Play 23).

Furthermore,in the play we are shown how Hedda develops affection with herfather’s pistol while she detests everything about Tesman, forinstance she says, &quotI’drather not go near your smelly old slippers” (HeddaGabler: Play 28).This can only be explained as ‘aesthetic’ nature of Hedda thatdoes not possess any hint of moral standard, and Hedda’s actionsbecome unpredictable. Towards the end of the play, Hedda’s strugglewith social boundaries is evident when she is reminded by Judge Brackabout the pistol scandal. Hedda responds ‘Iwould rather die’ (HeddaGabler: Play 26).Judge Brack challenges her that, ‘peoplesay such things, but do not do them’she finally commit suicide to affirm that she is different from whatthe society expects (HeddaGabler: Play 25).

Thereforein all these instances, Ibsen use of the title ‘Hedda Gabbler’and not with her married name ‘Hedda Tesman’ indicates thedifferent personality of Hedda (Puchner856).In most aspects, Hedda is totally different from the socialexpectations that characterize her husband’s bourgeoisie class. Assuch, the use of the title ‘Hedda Gabbler’ clearly indicates thatHedda is not part of her husband’s class but thinks and behaves asshe would have done in her father’s aristocratic class(Puchner 456).


&quotHeddaGabler: Play, Drama&quot. Retrieved October 28 2014, fromhttps://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzVMz3wZsu1EWGR4alZtTUpFams/edit?usp=docslist_api

PuchnerMartin, “TheNorton Anthology of Western Literature.”9th edition.Vol. 2.New York: W. W. Norton &amp Company. 2014. Print.