The Character of Hedda Gabler
Character sketching technique of Henrik Ibsen is praiseworthy. He has created a character, which perfectly fits for modern tragedy. His concept of tragedy is totally different from conventional writers, therefore, he wants to create a character with psychological problems. Hedda Gabler, main character of the play, has been created very minutely by him. There are some moral, social and psychological problems in her. She has not been shown as a traditional woman. Thea’s Elvsted character has been put in juxtaposition to her character. Moreover, Mrs. Tesman has also been compared to her. As she Mrs. Tesman a traditional woman, therefore, she is in contrast to Hedda Gabler. Hedda is completely a new concept so far as tragedy is concerned. Henrik Ibsen’s approach is different from other dramatist in character portrayal; he has interlinked many symbols with this major character. Although every character of the play is symbolic yet Hedda is the most symbolic character of the play. Perhaps, Ibsen wants to show the world about behavior of elite class people. Hedda Gabler and George Tesman are married but both are different in nature, class and thinking. Hedda’s psyche is absolutely different from George Tesman, therefore, she is not fit for Tesman family.
There are some flaws in Hedda’s character. Firstly, let’s talk about the symbolic significance of her name. She is called Hedda Gabler in the entire play. The play starts after Hedda’s marriage with Tesman even then title of the play is Hedda Gabler instead of Hedda Tesman. The reason behind it is that Hedda is still General Gabler’s daughter. She is married but still Gabler’s traits are there in her character. She has proud. She wants elite lifestyle. She knows that she is married to a middle class family yet she does not want to follow their conventional lifestyle. She wants to live life like her father. She is proud daughter of General Gabler. She does not want qualities of her husband in her. She thinks that she does not deserve life, which she is spending. Traits of General Gabler are inherited to her, therefore, she cannot compromise nor does she know the art of compromise. She wants a free life; the same life which she was spending before her marriage. It is, therefore, she does everything to get that life. Hedda, after marriage, could not change herself. Her attitude and her habits remained same even after her marriage. Thus, it is a major flaw in her character that she cannot compromise. She wants to be Gabler’s daughter instead of Tasman’s wife.
She is an unconventional character. As compared to her, Mrs. Tesman is a conventional woman, who knows the art of surviving in every situation. She happily sacrifices for her family. Every woman of that era was following the same tradition. Women were giving up their ambition in order to save the respect of their families. Mrs. Tesman also does the same. Hedda, on the other hand, does not do so. She time and again disrespects Mrs. Tesman. She does not sacrifice her ambitions for her husband; instead takes every such step which could ruin the respect of Tesman family. She does not follow the tradition. She wants to free herself from household activities. Moreover, she does not support her husband. She knows that she is married yet she restarts affair with Loevborg.
Her fear of scandals always threatens her. She wants to fulfill her desires but unable to do so. She always thinks: what people would say about her. Thus, she chooses other characters to live life through them. She wants to fulfill her ambitions through Loevborg and when she finds that she cannot do so, she advises him to commit suicide. She is the daughter of a general, therefore, she has a good respect in the vicinity. In fact, she has increased the respect of Tesman family while marrying George Tesman. Hence, she does not want to ruin her respect with her own shameful acts. Her marriage is also result of the same. She was going of her age, therefore, she accepted Tesman. We know past of Hedda. She had affair with Loevborg but she did not marry him because she was poor and his future was not secure. If she married her, she had to answer the people as marrying a poor person was a question.
She is a dishonest woman. She is neither loyal to her husband nor to her lover. She deceives both of them. Even she disrespects them. She first cheats Loevborg while saying no to his marriage proposal and then to Tesman while starting affair again with Loevborg. She is not loyal to Gabler family nor to Tesmans.
Her main psychological problem is that she wants to control everything including minds. She tries to control Tesman; she struggles to dominate Loevborg. Her so-called friendship with Thea Elvsted is also a struggle of dominance. Through Thea, she wants to get more power of dominance. She also wants to control Judge Brack. A lot of examples can be found in the play when she tries to control every major character. She is an attractive woman, therefore, she has the ability to do it quickly.
She has many ambitions in her life. She wants to fulfill them by hook or crook. Even after marriage, she wants to spend a single life, which is not possible. She wants to enjoy parties; she is interested in illicit relationships; she wants dominance over other characters; she wants authority but she does not dare to take risks. She has fears, therefore, she can be called a coward woman. She commits suicide because she knows that she could never answer people about her relationship with Loevborg.
At last but not least, Henrik Ibsen has created Hedda’s character while keeping in view his own society. She definitely fits for tragedy. She is an unconventional woman; she is a dishonest character, she fears of scandals; she is a frightening character. She has a lot of desires and in pursuance of those desires she met with her death.