Henrik Johan Ibsen was a Norwegian dramatist born in
1826 and dying in 1906. During his life time, he was
influential in the creation of a new type of realism in
drama. He is considered to be the father of modern
drama, as a result. He was also a leader in Scandinavian
society, and his plays challenged the values of the middle
class society that he lived in.
• Born in 1828 in Skien,Norway
• Hisfather, Knud Ibsen, one in a long line of sea
captains, had been born in Skien in 1797 and
had married Marichen Cornelia Martie
• Hischildhood was not particularly happy
• Unsociable child
• Father's business had to be sold to meet the
demands of hiscreditors
• He was a talented painter.
• In1849, in Christiania, he wrote his first play,
Catiline using blank verse.
• 45 copies were sold.
• In 1858 in Germany, Ibsen married Suzanna
Thoreson. They had one son.
Works produced during this time
• The Pretenders (1863)
• Love's Comedy (1863)
• Pillars of Society (1877)
• Ghosts (1881)
• Hedda Gabler (1890) published in Munich, Germany
Inyour power, all the same.
Subject to your will andyour
demands. Nolonger free! No!
That’s a thought I’ll never
-----Hedda Gabler, act 4
• SOCIETAL BREAKDOWN
• FAITH AND AUTHENTICITY VERSUS SELF SEEKING AND SELF INDULGENCE
• CLASS STRUGGLE AND ISSUES OF MORALITY DOMINATE HIS CHARACTERS
• PSYCHOLOGICAL STATE OF CHARACTERS
• SOCIAL CONCERNS SUCH AS VENEREAL DISEASE AND THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN
• Ibsen also wrote poetry
• His first edition of poems published in 1871
• He created a large amount of artwork over his lifetime in the form of watercolours, oils,
cartoons, and sketches.
In 1901, Ibsen had a stroke, and for the next few
years, he was bedridden until his death in 1906.
• Original language: Norwegian
• Plot: An eccentric woman who, disappointed in her marriage, attempts to
regain her influence over a former lover, Eilert, now under the good influence
former school friend of Hedda. He loses the manuscript of a new work which is
make him famous, and Hedda's husband finds it, but she destroys the work.
When Eilert, in despair, thinks of suicide, she gives him a pistol with which he
ends his life in a low resort, and Hedda kills herself.Genre：Drama
• Setting：Jørgen Tesman's villa, Kristiania, Norway; 1890's
Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian
playwright Henrik Ibsen.
The play premiered in 1891 in Germany to negative
reviews, but has subsequently gained recognition as a
classic of realism, nineteenth century theatre and world
A 1902 production was a major sensation on Broadway
starring Minnie Maddern Fiske, and following its initial
limited run was revived with the actress the following year.
“Depending on the interpretation, Hedda may be portrayed as an idealistic
heroine fighting society, a victim of circumstance, a
prototypical feminist, or a manipulative villain."
(Gosse and Archer 31)
Hedda's married name is Hedda Tesman;
Gabler is her maiden name. On the subject of
the title, Ibsen wrote:
"My intention in giving it this name was to
indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be
regarded rather as her father's daughter than
her husband's wife."
George Tesman - The husband of Hedda, an
Hedda Gabler - The heroine
Miss Juliane Tesman (Aunty Juju) - Aunt of George
Mrs. Thea Elvsted - Friend of Hedda and George, confidant
Judge Brack - Friend of the Tesmans
Ejlert Løvborg - George's academic rival whom Hedda
Bertha - Servant to the Tesmans and to George as a child.
Hedda Gabler - Heddais the daughter of
the famous General Gabler; as a child she
was used to luxury and high-class living. As
the play begins, she is returning from her
honeymoon with Jürgen Tesman, a scholar
with good prospects but not as much
money as Hedda is accustomed to. Her
married name is Hedda Tesman. Hedda is
an intelligent, unpredictable, and
somewhat dishonest young woman who is
not afraid to manipulate her husband and
friends. (SparkNotes Editors).
Jürgen Tesman - Tesman is an amiable, intelligent young
scholar. He tries very hard to please his young wife, Hedda, and often
does not realize that she is manipulating him. In fact, he often seems
foolish for his age, and when he annoys Hedda, the audience has
reason to sympathize with her.
Tesman is hoping for a professorship in history, and at the beginning of
the play it seems that his one great rival, Ejlert Lövborg, a notorious
alcoholic, no longer stands in Tesman's way. Tesman was raised by his
Aunt Julle. (SparkNotes Editors).
Juliane Tesman, or Aunt Julle, is the aunt of Jürgen Tesman.
After Tesman's parents died, Aunt Julle raised him. She is
well- meaning, and she is constantly hinting that Tesman
Hedda should have a baby.
Aunt Julle tries to get along with Hedda, but the difference in
their class backgrounds is painfully apparent. Aunt Julle lives
with the ailing Aunt Rina, another aunt of Tesman's.
Judge Brack - Brack is a judge of relatively inferior
rank. He is a friend of both Tesman and Hedda, and he visits
their house regularly. He has connections around the city, and
is often the first to give Tesman information about alterations
in the possibility of his professorship. He seems to enjoy
meddling in other people's affairs. He is a worldly and cynical
man. (SparkNotes Editors).
Ejlert Lövborg - A genius, Ejlert Lövoborg is Tesman*
biggest competitor in the academic world. After a series of
scandals related to drinking, he was once a public outcast
but has now returned to the city and has published a book
to rave reviews. He also has another manuscript that is even
more promising. Mrs. Elvsted helped him with both
manuscripts. He once shared a close relationship with
Hedda. (SparkNotes Editors).
Mrs. Elvsted - Mrs. Elvsted is a meek but
passionate woman. She and her husband hired Ejlert
Lövborg as a tutor to their children, and Mrs. Elvsted
grew attached to Ejlert, acting as his personal
secretary and aiding him in his research and writing.
When Ejlert leaves her estate to return to the city,
Mrs. Elvsted comes to town and goes to Tesman for
help, fearing Ejlert will revert to his alcoholism. Mrs.
Elvsted went to school with Hedda and remembers
being tormented by her. (SparkNotes Editors).
• Berte - Berte is George and Hedda Tesman's servant. Formerly, she was the
servant in Juliane Tesman's household. She tries very hard to please Hedda, her new
mistress, but Hedda is quite dissatisfied with her.
• Aunt Rina - Aunt Rina is dying at the start of the play. She never appears
onstage. She helped Aunt Julle raise Tesman* (SparkNotes Editors).
The action takes place in a villa in Kristiania (now Oslo). Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic General, has
just returned from her honeymoon with Jørgen Tesman, an aspiring young academic, reliable but not brilliant,
who has combined research with their honeymoon. It becomes clear in the course of the play that she has never
loved him but has married him for reasons pertaining to the boring nature of her life, and it is suggested that she
may be pregnant. The reappearance of Tesman's academic rival, Ejlert Løvborg, throws their lives into disarray.
Løvborg, a writer, is also a recovered alcoholic who has wasted his talent until now. Thanks to a relationship with
Hedda's old schoolmate, The Elvsted (who has left her husband for him), he shows signs of rehabilitation and has
just completed a bestseller in the same field as Tesman.
The critical success of his recently published work transforms Løvborg into a threat to Tesman, as Løvborg
becomes a competitor for the university professorship Tesman had been counting on. The couple are financially
overstretched and Tesman now tells Hedda that he will not be able to finance the regular entertaining or
luxurious housekeeping that Hedda had been looking forward to. (SparkNotes Editors).
Upon meeting Løvborg however, the couple discover that he has
no intention of competing for the professorship, but rather has
spent the last few years labouring with Mrs. Elvsted over what
he considers to be his masterpiece, the "sequel" to his recently
published work. Hedda, apparently jealous of Mrs. Elvsted's
influence over Løvborg, hopes to come between them, and
provokes Løvborg to get drunk and go to a party.
Tesman returns home from the party and reveals that he found
the manuscript of Løvborg's great work, which the latter has
lost while drunk. When Hedda next sees Løvborg, he confesses
to her, despairingly, that he has lost the manuscript. Instead of
telling him that the manuscript has been found, Hedda
encourages him to
commit suicide, giving him a pistol. She then burns the
manuscript. She tells her husband she has destroyed it to
secure their future. (SparkNotes Editors).
When the news comes that Løvborg has indeed killed himself, Tesman and Mrs. Elvsted are
determined to try to reconstruct his book from what they already know. Hedda is shocked to
discover, from the sinister Judge Brack, that Løvborg's death, in a brothel, was messy and
probably accidental (this "ridiculous and vile" death contrasts the "beautiful and free" one that
Hedda had imagined for him). Worse, Brack knows where the pistol came from. This means
that he has power over her, which he will use to insinuate himself into the household (there is a
strong implication that he will force Hedda into a sexual affair). Leaving the others, she goes
into her smaller room and ends the play by shooting herself in the temple.
Joseph Wood Krutch makes a connection between Hedda
Gabler and Freud, whose first work on psychoanalysis was
published almost a decade later. Hedda is one of the first fully
developed neurotic heroines of literature. By that Krutch
means that Hedda is neither logical nor insane in the old sense
of being random and unaccountable.
Her aims and her motives have a secret personal logic of their
own. She gets what she wants, but what she wants isnot
anything that the normal usually admit, publicly at least, to be
desirable. One of the significant things that such a character
implies isthe premise that there isa secret, sometimes
unconscious, world of aims and methods — one might almost
say a secret system of values — that isoften much more
important thanthe rational one.
Joan Templeton makes a connection between Hedda Gabler
and Hjørdis from The Vikings at Helgeland, since the arms-
bearing, horse-riding Hedda, married to a passive man she
despises, indeed resembles the “eagle in a cage” that Hjørdis
It is fitting that the title of the play is Hedda's maiden name, Hedda Gabler,
for the play is to a large extent about the formerly aristocratic Hedda's
inability to adjust to the bourgeois life into which she has married.
The rest of the male characters are more or less in love with Hedda, perhaps
because of her almost decadent sense of beauty. Brack wants to establish
a private relationship with her, parallel to her relationship with Tesman,
and Ejlert dearly hopes that she shares his "passion for life." She finds both
of these ideas silly, openly rejecting Ejlert's notion and teasing Brack by
saying that he wants to be "the cock of the walk." (SparkNotes Editors).
Even Mrs. Elvsted feels intimidated by Hedda. Because of this popularity, she is
the most powerful character. She toys with others because she can find no
solace or entertainment in life. Indeed, Hedda's power is so far-reaching
that her own self-destruction leads almost inevitably to the destruction of
the other characters' lives. (SparkNotes Editors).