Every writer especially a dramatist delivers a specific information only through his characters. He builds image of a character through his actions and dialogues and sketches his picture, through which the audience knows what he is going to portray in the play. Judge Brack in one of those characters, whom Henrik Ibsen has very skillfully painted in the play Hedda Gabler. In fact, he is the most criticized character of this play because of the attributes that Henrik Ibsen deliberately assigns to him. The playwright has knowledge of the most famous technique “characterization” and it is the main reason due to which he remains successful in portraying even complex characters like Judge Brack in his play Hedda Gabler.
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Physical Appearance of Judge Brack in Hedda Gabler:
Henrik Ibsen sketches him as an apparent courteous man, who knows how to talk and behave. Judge Brack knows Hedda Gabler even before her marriage. As we all know that Hedda is the daughter of general Gabler, therefore, it is not astonishing for the audience to realize that her social circle is not limited only to her friends. He appears in first act of the play in the early morning and Hedda opens door for him. Henrik Ibsen defines him as a man of forty-five, thick set but well-built and elastic in his movements. His face is roundish with an aristocratic profile. Hair is short, still almost black, and carefully dressed. His eyebrows thick. His moustaches are also thick, with short-cut ends. He wears a well-cut walking-suit, a little too youthful for his age. He uses an eye-glass, which he now and then lets drop.
It is eminent from the description, that Henrik Ibsen provides to the audience, that Judge Brack seems young even at the age of forty-five. His dressing, style and aristocratic etiquettes impress the audience and perhaps Hedda likes such characters, who dresses and behave just like Judge Brack and not like George Tesman. Needless to mention here that as compared to George Tesman, he is not boring and still attracts young ladies of his vicinity due to his physical charm.
Role of Judge Brack In Hedda Gabler:
Judge Brack is very much interested in married women. So much so he knows that Hedda is married to George Tesman and is residing with her husband even than he frequently visits her. He sets a triangular friendship with her. When he realizes that he has no chance to survive in Hedda’s life, he blackmails her. He knows that Hedda’s greatest threat of life that she fears scandals. It is, therefore, he takes advantage of her weakness. He tries everything to get her attention and to control her but remains fail in his motive as he is unaware that she is courageous enough to commit suicide.
Nowhere in the play we realize that Hedda is tortured physically. She has only mental problems due to which she suffers. If someone is responsible to mistreat her psychologically then he is only Judge Brack. If he has not blackmailed her, she would have never taken her own life.
Henrik Ibsen has also put Judge Brack and Hedda Gabler in juxtaposition. There are certain elements that are common between these two characters, however, there are some due to which we can say that they are entirely opposite to each others. One one hand, Hedda needs social security. It is obligatory for her to marry a person even to whom she does not like as she is already overaged. Judge Brack, on other hand, does not need to do so. He is independent because he belongs to male sex. He has his own profession to earn and to live a free life. Henrik Ibsen has compared these two characters to show double standards of society in which he was once living.
Judge Brack is Representative of 19th Centaury:
Like every dramatist, Henrik Ibsen’s character Judge Brack has universal appeal. He is not only Judge Brack but a typical man of 19th century. He is representative of every flirty male member of his era. It seems that primary purpose to portray characters like Judge Brack in Hedda Gabler is to show that married women can be tricked by starting an illicit relationship in that centaury. Unlike Hedda, he can freely misuse his powers and no one is there to ask him why he is doing so. Hence, character of Judge Brack is not limited as the playwright uses him to depict a male dominated society of 19th century in his play Hedda Gabler.
Judge Brack Vs. Other Male Characters:
If we compare Judge Brack with George Tesman we realize that Judge Brack has more powers. Not only he can misuse his powers but also he is cynical and have the ability to turn situation in his favor. He is physically charming, professionally settled and mentally intellectual, therefore, it is not wrong to say that his attributes are absolutely opposite to George Tesman. Nonetheless, he is morally a corrupt man, who blackmails married women and takes advantage of their weaknesses. In this regard, he is also dissimilar to Eilert Loevborg, who is a loyal, creative and honest man. Thereby, there is also a comparison between Judge Brack and Eilert Loevborg in this play.
As a result of all the above discussion, it is regretful to say that Judge Brack is a hypocrite and social trespasser. Despite of his good social position in the society, he wants to control others and wants to gain more and more power just to blackmail others. He is an eminent judge by profession and also a well known figure yet it is not enough for him. He is lusty and amoral. Henrik Ibsen has created this character to show a male dominated double standard society where females have no other option except to suffer and to show how respectables of 19th centaury, belonging to the establishment, commit contempt for being dishonest.