Critical Analysis of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler
A spider becomes caught in it’s own web. This is an example of an attempted manipulation that went awry. Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, is a work about a woman who manipulates the fates of others in order to fulfill her own desires. The title character is a woman who has recently returned from a six month “honeymoon” with her groom, Tesman, a man whom she does not love. She yearns for freedom, but she feels as if she cannot leave her marriage. To occupy her time, she manipulates the lives of everyone around her. Hedda kills herself after becoming engorged in her own manipulations. Through the use of theme, setting, and then-current affairs, Ibsen produces a work that uniquely portrays the sources of the motivations of this manipulative woman. Whether it be the burning of her former love’s manuscript or supplying him with the pistol to shoot himself, Hedda’s malevolence shows the ability of man to have total disregard for the life of another. Hedda coldly manipulates the lives of everyone around her. Through these manipulative actions, she ruins the lives of all of her acquaintances. Because she is not happy in her marriage, she attempts to forbid anyone else to live a content life. For example, after she persuades Eljert Lövborg to consume alcohol, he ruins his reputation and loses something that is most precious to him: the manuscript of a book that he had been writing with Mrs. Elvsted. Although Hedda realizes the importance of this manuscript to both Lövborg and Mrs. Elvsted, she chars it. Because Lövborg and Mrs. Elvsted have put their souls into this manuscript, Hedda metaphorically relates her action to burning their child. This cold thoughtlessness demonstrates Hedda’s disregard for the life of a fellow human being. Hedda’s actions ultimately lead to her demise. After giving Lövborg her pistol and insinuating that he must kill himself,...
Cited: Hemmer, Bjorn. “The dramatist Henrik Ibsen.” http://odin.dep.no/ud/nornytt/ibsen.html
Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Mazer, Cary M. “Hedda Gabler.” http://www.english.upenn.edu/~cmazer/hedda.html.
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