Literary Review: Hedda Gabler

Topics: Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen Pages: 8 (2778 words) Published: May 17, 2005
Title: Hedda Gabler
Author: Henrik Ibsen
Setting: Un-named city in Norway (probably Christiania - the Norwegian capital then) Time Period: 1890

Major Characters

Hedda Gabler - (married name: Hedda Tesman) Daughter of an aristocratic general who spoiled her. She's used to a life of luxury in which she gets anything she wants. She is bored with her life because there's nothing new for her to see or experience. She marries George Tesman so that she won't be an oddball in society. She's nearly thirty and realizes that she's not getting any younger or desirable. He's the only one of her suitors who grovels for her hand in marriage, so she chooses him. She immediately sees that she will be able to manipulate him into giving her anything she wants. She puts up with the fact that he's only interested in past civilizations and he doesn't satisfy any of her needs. She wants the power to shape the lives of others, and her obvious ennui wrecks not only her life, but the lives of all who come in contact with her as well.

George Tesman - very kind and intelligent man. He was raised by his aunts, Juliana and Rina. He remains devoted to them, even though Rina is an invalid. He does everything in his power to give Hedda the life she's used to. He annoys not only characters in the story, but readers as well. After almost all his sentences he asks the question "Eh?" (or "What?" depending on the translation). He is a gentleman and serves Hedda as if he were her slave and not her husband. He even accepts financial support from his aunt Juliana so that he can provide the kind of life Hedda is used to, and to pay for the house he though she really wanted. He even depends on becoming the professor of history so that she'll be proud of him and they'll have more financial security. He doesn't realize Hedda is manipulative, despises him, and doesn't even want to have their child. He believes her lies that she burnt the manuscript for him as an act of love.

Judge Brack - likes to gossip and be know everything going on in people's private affairs. He has connections around the city and uses that to provide information to Tesman about his candidacy for professorship in history. He informs them of the competition from Eilert Lovborg for the professorship, and also of his death. Brack shares an intimate relationship with Hedda, and she confides in him about her boredom she has with her marriage. He tries to convince her to become his mistress, but she expresses that she has no intent of committing adultery by cheating on George. When he realizes she provides Eilert with the medium for his suicide, he blackmails her into becoming his mistress in exchange for protection from scandal.

Eilert Lovborg - a recovered alcoholic who escaped scandal through the release of a book which received great reviews. He also writes an insightful book about the future which he and Mrs. Elvsted refer to as their child. He was the confidant of young Hedda Gabler who craved knowledge of a life other than the one she was accustomed to. He's another victim of Hedda's manipulation, but unlike George, he realizes that she has a certain power over him. He is driven to drinking excessively once again by Hedda, and ends up killing himself when he loses his treasured "child" (the manuscript), on account of his carelessness after being intoxicated.

Mrs. Elvsted - convinced her husband to hire Eilert Lovborg to tutor her stepchildren. She grew attached to him and served as his personal secretary, helping him with research and writing two books. She follows him to the city, without her husband's knowledge, for fear he will become an alcoholic once again. She is kind and gentle-hearted, but not especially good at standing up for herself. When Hedda drives Eilert to have a drink, she doesn't do all she could to try and stop him from taking it. She lets him go to Brack's party without much objection. There's also the fact that no one knows of her real situation with...
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