The Character of Hedda Gabler in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler Essay

The Character of Hedda Gabler in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler Essay

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The Character of  Hedda Gabler

    Hedda Gabler is perhaps one of the most interesting characters in Ibsen.  She has been the object of psychological analysis since her creation.  She is an interesting case indeed, for to "explain" Hedda one must rely on the hints Ibsen gives us from her past and the lines of dialogue that reveal the type of person she is.  The reader never views Hedda directly.  We never get a soliloquy in which she bares her heart and motives to the audience.  Hedda is as indifferent to our analysis as she is to Tesman's excitement over his slippers when she says "I really don't care about it" (Ibsen  8).  But a good psychologist knows that even this indifference is telling.  Underneath the ennui and indifference lies a character rich for psychological investigation:  "The Character of Hedda Gabler remains a product of our speculation.  That is, as we process the surface details we perceive in the various postures she assumes, we hypothesize an idea of the figure underneath the mask." (Lyons  83).  This paper will try to "explain" Hedda with the aid of critical analysis.


            The first aspect of the play that strikes the reader is the title.  Before we even read a line of this play we notice the incongruity between the name of the title character and her name in the play.  In the play Hedda is Tesman's wife, but the title suggests that she is the independent daughter of the late General Gabler.  Thus, Ibsen introduces the reader to this complex character before the curtain is drawn.  We immediately ask the question:  why is the title "Hedda Gabler" and not "Hedda Tesman"?  Perhaps Ibsen is suggesting Hedda's independence from her present situation, the situation in which she is introduce...

... middle of paper ...

...wman.  She too is confused about her own identity and appears to be in the grip of forces beyond her understanding and control--social and psychological forces.  Nevertheless, Hedda is an interesting case and Ibsen's play foreshadows many psychological and social concerns of the 20th century.



Helland, F.  "Irony and Experience in Hedda Gabler."  Contemporary Approaches to Ibsen.  Ed.  Hemmer and Ystad.  Norway:  Scandinavian UP, 1994.  99-119.

Ibsen, Henrik.  Hedda Gabler.  New York:  Dover Publications, 1990.

Lyons, C.  Hedda Gabler:  Gender, Role, and World.  MA:  Twayne, 1991.

Northam, J.  Ibsen's Dramatic Method: A Study of the Prose Dramas.  London:  Faber and Faber Limited, 1953.

Weigland, H.  The Modern Ibsen:  A Reconsideration.  New York:  E.P. Dutton, 1960.











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