Mrs. Thea Elvsted is one of the major characters of Henrik Ibsen’s play Hedda Gabler. She is much sober and responsible as compared to Hedda, therefore, there is a comparison and contrast between the two. Thea is among those characters of the play whom past is much explicit. She knows Hedda from her school days as they were once schoolmates. Ibsen portrays two distinct relationships in this play: first one is between Hedda Gabler and George Tesman whereas the second one is between Thea Elvsted and Eilert Loevborg. Although none of these relationships is perfect yet Henrik Ibsen has told the world through his play Hedda Gabler that second one is better than the first one, credit of which goes to Mrs. Thea Elvsted.
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Mrs. Thea Elvsted’s Past in Hedda Gabler:
She is an old friend of Hedda Gabler, who knows her minutely, however, it is very much clear from the nature of Hedda that she does not tell everything to everyone. She is a character with modern problems, therefore, her problems are psychological in nature. Mrs. Thea Elvsted is close to Hedda Gabler to some extent but she does not know her completely. No one could expect that Hedda would prefer death to scandals. Hence, it is not wrong to say that somewhere Mrs. Thea Elvsted along with other characters of the play misjudges Hedda Gabler in spite of the fact that she knows her since long.
As far as marriage life of Mrs. Thea Elvsted is concerned, she was married to Mr. Elvsted, the District Magistrate. She became stepmother of his children and for their education and tuition, she hired Eilert Loevborg as their tutor. At that time, relationship between the two started. She reformed Eilert Loevborg and he became responsible enough to write a manuscript. She did not only help him to write the book but also helped him to compile the book. Even after his death, she with the support of George Tesman reconstructed his menuescript.
Mrs. Thea Elvsted and Hedda Gabler | A Comparison:
Ibsen makes comparison between the two physically and morally. In both the ways, they are two distinct creatures. There is no match for Hedda in fearing from social scandals. On the other hand, Mrs. Thea Elvsted is a caring woman as evident from her relationship with Eilert Loevborg. Nevertheless, it is not the case that Mrs. Elvsted is perfect. She is just a bit better than Hedda Gabler because of her mature attributes and excellent decision making powers.
Physical Comparison Between the Two:
Henrik Ibsen describes Hedda’s complexion as pale and opaque. Her steel-grey eyes express a cold, unruffled repose. Her hair is of an agreeable brown, but not particularly abundant. She is dressed in a tasteful, somewhat loose-fitting morning gown.
On the other hand, Mrs. Thea Elvsted has been portrayed as a woman of fragile figure, with pretty, soft features. Her eyes are light blue, large, round, and somewhat prominent, with a startled, inquiring expression. Her hair is remarkably light, almost flaxen, and unusually abundant and wavy. She is a couple of years younger than Hedda. She wears a dark visiting dress, tasteful, but not quite in the latest fashion.
Physically, Mrs. Thea Elvsted is younger than Hedda Gabler, however, she is not as much fashionable as Hedda is. There is also a comparison between hairs of both the characters. Hedda has brown hair but less in number. In contrast to her, Thea’s hair are abundant and wavy. Symbolically, it means that Hedda is less attractive than Mrs. Elvsted but she looks more attractive to every female member of her family. Similarly, Judge Brack is interested in her just because of her physical charm, therefore, it cannot be denied that she too is an attractive woman. Further, if it is analyzed symbolically then it shows physical strength of a woman. In addition, psychological symbols are also very much obvious from physical appearance of these characters.
Moral Comparison Between the Two:
Hedda is a dishonest character. She often tell lies to other characters of the play. For instance, she tells her husband George Tesman that she loves the house that he has bought for her but subsequently she tells Judge Brack that she is not really interested in the same. She is the one, who is responsible for the death of Eilert Loevborg. Furthermore, she is coward as Eilert Loevborg says “Yes, Hedda, you are a coward at heart.” She also wants illicit relationship. She is well aware with the fact that Eilert Loevborg has reverted to his previous routine life yet she reinitiates love affair with him. Hedda also continues her friendship with Judge Brack even after her marriage, so much so, she is no more interested in her married life with George Tesman.
In contrast to Hedda Gabler, mother like nature of Thea Elvsted helps Eilert Loevborg to start a new journey of his life. She is loyal and sincere and supports and nurtures him. She uses every possible way to make him happy. Thea is not interested in creating utopian world for herself. She is an active and practical woman due to which she has no fear of scandals. When Hedda asks her “But what do you think people will say of you, Thea?” She replies “They may say what they like, for aught I care. I have done nothing but what I had to do.”
At last but not least, Mrs. Thea Elvsted may not be a perfect wife but all in all she is a good woman, a better lover and a bold lady of Ibsen’s era, which has been put in juxtaposition to Hedda Gabler for the sake of comparison. We can witness her bravery and boldness in every act. She does what she loves to do without any fear. In this regard, we can say that Mrs. Thea Elvsted is better than Hedda Gabler as Hedda lives in dreams and forces herself to live in a relationship, which she does not like at all. It is also matter of fact that Hedda encourages Eilert Loevborg for her drinking habits and also compels him to commit suicide whereas Mrs. Thea Elvsted appreciates him because of his creativity.