Hedda Gabler focusses on the frustrated existence of its title character, exploring core issues of power, control, and social expectation. Bored and restricted by her middle-class environment, Hedda plays out her own fantasies and psychological games with those nearest to her to an ultimately costly end. The play opens as Hedda and her academic husband, Georges Tesman, return from honeymoon and immediately it is clear that Hedda is neither happy nor satisfied in her new role as Tesman’s wife. She is, however, pregnant. Soon after their return, Hedda is reacquainted with an old school friend, Mrs. Elvsted, and the brilliant but wayward writer Eilert Loevborg. It becomes clear that Hedda has personal history with Loevborg and it is at this point that her machinations begin. Hedda finds pleasure in manipulating Loevborg into drinking again and thus ruining both his career and his relationship with Mrs. Elvsted. Ultimately she persuades the conflicted writer to take his own life. However, Hedda finds herself under the control of their imposing friend, Judge Brack, who makes it clear that he knows she gave Loevborg the gun. He has the power to socially destroy her if he so wished. Trapped under his control, Hedda retreats in to the rear room and shoots herself.
Hedda Gabler guide sections