Act One

When the play opens, George Tesman and his wife, Hedda, have returned to their new villa after a six-month honeymoon. His aunt, Juliana Tesman (whom he calls Aunt Juju), has called to pay an early morning visit. She meets Bertha the maid first. It is clear that Bertha used to be Miss Tesman’s maid but has now come to take care of George and his family. The two women discuss the differing tastes and domestic expectations of George’s new wife. George welcomes his aunt affectionately, apologizing for not taking her home from the ferry terminal the previous evening and admiring her new hat. Miss Tesman asks subtly whether Hedda might be with child, but George does not understand her meaning. Instead they discuss finances, upon which Tesman learns his aunt has taken out a loan on her pension to finance the house, and the new book of Eilert Loevborg. Hedda then appears, angry and frustrated. She deliberately mistakes Miss Tesman’s hat for an old one of Bertha’s, dismaying both Tesman and his aunt. George comments on his wife’s new shapely figure and Miss Tesman softens, recognizing the implication of his comment. After his aunt leaves, Hedda promises George she will invite her to afternoon tea to make amends. Mrs. Thea Elvsted then comes to call. She is an old school acquaintance of Hedda’s and an old girlfriend of Tesman’s.

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