Hedda Gabler
Henry Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler is a play dealing with a woman who is searching for a way to find herself in the midst of a society controlled by and favorable to men. Hedda is raised only by her father, a strict military man, without any female role models to prepare Hedda for wifehood and motherhood, which is the only role women were allowed to play during the nineteenth century. Because of her unique upbringing, Hedda grows up admiring freedom, independence, and power; she has a very hard time accepting herself as a weak, passive person who would spend her life taking care of routine domestic affairs. To solve her problem, Hedda uses negative and destructive methods; she destroys, manipulates, and tries to take control of anything she cannot accept.


Hedda Gabler is constantly torn between her hungry desire for freedom and her commitment to social standards. She refuses to submit to her feminine destiny by denying her pregnancy and constantly has an unsatisfied craving for life. However, instead of using this will and energy for a positive outcome, Hedda Gabler does only destructive and vindictive things in trying to reach her goal. If she cannot accept someone or something, she destroys it.


Hedda Gabler, because of her upbringing, always has respect toward powerful people, and resents those who are subservient or weak. The two characters that symbolize power are Lovborg and Brack, with Aunt Julia and Mrs. Elvstead representing the feminine role. Hedda degrades Aunt Julia by insulting her new bonnet, and burns Lovborg and Thea’s manuscript. When Hedda possesses the lost manuscript, it gives her power because she knows that she has control over the outcome of someone’s life. She burns it not just because she craves control, but also because it is the only way she can deal with her lack of creativity and freedom that the manuscript represents. The manuscript is a product of love from Thea and Lovborg, and love is also something Hedda was too cold to experience. She cannot accept her emptiness and lack of warmth, so she destroys others’ success to compensate for her own hopelessness.


Although Hedda remains enslaved to a standard of social conventionality, she is still able to feed off of Lovborg’s own experiences and use them to fulfill her own hunger for independence and creativity. He becomes Hedda’s romantic ideal of the free spirited and full-of-life hero; in Hedda’s mind, he possesses the intellect and power she longs to have.


When Lovborg tells Hedda that he has failed Thea and has no reason to live, Hedda tries to get him to commit an act of “courage and freedom”. She gives him a gun and asks him to “do it beautifully” by shooting himself in the temple. Later on, Judge Brack informs her that he did not die voluntarily, but from an accidental bullet wound in his bowels; this disgusts and shocks Hedda because her ideal of courage and freedom turns into a sickening disaster. Hedda understands that Judge Brack is the only one who is capable of saving her from becoming part of a scandal; she is now a slave to Brack’s needs because he has control over her.


With no hope for improvement, Hedda shoots herself in the temple. This is her courageous and beautiful way of finally gaining the independence and freedom she needed. As she faces either “boring herself to death” or committing a noble suicide, Hedda, as always, finds only a destructive solution to her life. Because of her own confusion and thirst for self-realization, she burns Thea and Lovborgs “child”, causes Lovborg’s death, and at last takes her own life.