“The daemon in Hedda is that she wants to influence another human being, but once that has happened she despises him”. Do you agree? Give arguments to support your answer.
The play starts; when the marriage between Hedda and Tesman has been solemnized even then the title of play is “Hedda Gabler” instead of “Hedda Tesman”. Hedda first is daughter of General Gabler and then she is wife of George Tesman. Being a General, Hedda’s father has influence upon many people including Tesman Family. Henrik Ibsen explained the title of play in the following words:-
“I intended to indicate thereby that as a personality she is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than as her husband’s wife.”
Hedda shares the nature and influence of her father. She, being General Gabler’s daughter, has an influence nature. She wants to dominate the society. Not only her husband Georgae Tesman is under her control but also his ex-lover Eilert Loevborg. From the very start of play, we realize that Hedda has power over George Tesman. He cannot steer his life as per his own desires. Hedda has came from an elite class family and Tesman belongs to middle class, therefore, she has advantage over George Tesman. No doubt, she is worshiped in Tesman family because she is the daughter of General Gabler. Hedda has the ability to control many people. What makes her capable, there are certain reasons behind it; firstly, she is an attractive woman; secondly, she is affluent by birth. Her attractiveness helps her to make influence on other characters; it is the only reason that Judge Brack and Eilert Loevborg are under her influence. She also befriends Thea Elvested and uses her to accomplish her desires. There is no denial the fact that she is has an authoritative personality and wants to dominate the society. In fact, she wants to rule the minds, living around her, and wants to drift their thinking. She is afraid of scandals, therefore, wants adjustment in everyone’s mind.
First influence, which she has, is on George Tesman, who is her husband. He is not foolish but he has no power to control his wife. He is financially very low from her and it disrupts his confidence in front of his wife. Moreover, Hedda, from the very first day of her marriage, feels uncomfortable with him. The only reason, due to which, Hedda married to Tesman is over-aging. Hedda’s husband is much more of a girl than she is. Hedda’s control on her husband is very much clear in different stages of the play, therefore, there is no doubt that Hedda has influence on her husband but it is also right that after making influence on a chosen character, she tries to despise him. In case of George Tesman, he morally abuses the relationship of marriage. She considers her husband a boring personality. Despite knowing that, after marriage with George Tesman, she has no other choice except to accept this relationship and be loyal to her husband, she makes an affair with Eilert Loevborg. She is an inhuman character, who does not only disrespect her husband but also aunt Tesman. She is an idealistic woman. Perhaps, Henrik Ibsen is mainly concerned with Hedda’s Idealism, that’s why he, through Hedda Gabler, has focused on dread of scandals. It is not Hedda’s mistake to get control on someone; her err is to belittle the person, whom she has conquered. Along with many other characters, she also degrades her husband in every manner after triumphing him.
Second influence of Hedda is on Eilert Loevborg. In spite of knowing that she is a married woman, she tries to run an affair with Eilert Loevborg. Although her marriage is not as successful as she has expected yet she should know that all she has is her relationship with George Tesman. She first rejects Eilert Loevborg but subsequently recaptures him. She knows that Loevborg is the only option to fulfill the empty vessel of her desires. Loevborg’s weakness is drinking and Hedda takes advantage of it and ultimately manages to control him in every manner. In other words, she tries to snatch Eilert Loevborg from Thea Elvsted. Most important aspect of Hedda’s personality is that when she gains control on Eilert Loevborg, she annihilates him. May be she wanted to live her life through Eilert Loevborg but suicide was not the only option. When she considers that Eilert Loevborg can go nowhere, she refers him a beautiful death. And when Hedda is informed that Eilert Loevborg has committed suicide, she says: “I am saying there’s beauty in what he has done.”. It cannot be denied that Hedda is responsible for destruction of Eilert Loevborg. Before her marriage, she has influence on Eilert Loevborg and destroys his life by refusing from proposal and even after her marriage, she disrespects him and ruins him. The major annihilation, in this play, from the hands of Hedda is of Eilert Loevborg. The minute study of the play and reveals that Hedda first wants to influence another human being and then she despises him.
These are not only the characters, which are under Hedda’s influence; Judge Brack, Thea Elvsted and some other people of vicinity are also under her control. Judge Brack is fascinated by her beauty but he is the only character in this play, who is neither physically nor morally abused by Hedda because he is comparative to her; apart from him, every character of the play is first triumphed and then mentally or physically ill-treated. Thea Elvsted has been physically abused by Hedda; Mrs. Tesman is morally injured; Eilert Loevborg is annihilated and George Tesman is repeatedly insulted.
Summing up the whole discussion, Hedda is not a strong woman but still she controls every mind. Some characters are enchanted by her beauty; some are fascinated by her sweet tongue and some are captivated by her financial power. Somehow, she has influence on every character but flaw in her characters is that she tries to destroy the influenced-character in order to complete her wishes.