Hedda Gabler- structure of the play and the major characters

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1. Setting (time and place)

The setting in Hedda Gabler is unchanged, and that contributes to the fact that it is a psychological drama. This means that Hedda Gabler was staged in one area, and the only changing factors were the characters and the interactions they had with one another. Also, the fact that the household was a clear example of the randomness of the wedding’s occurrence and proof that there is no love between Tesman and Hedda. The setting takes place in Norway in 1800’s and is constantly in the sitting room of the Tesman household. Also, the play takes place in autumn, and this is mentioned in the beginning of the play. This tells the reader that it is a season of death, and this foreshadows the death and decay of nature and the environment, clearly foreshadowing future death and decay within the play and its events. This is proven true later in the play, because the theme of death and decay is very apparent. Also, the unchanging setting gives the play a sense of continuity and a feeling of unchanging surroundings which puts all the focus on the play on the events that occur. This also proves how much Henrik Ibsen cares about the little details within his plays including the stage directions and dialogue between characters.

2. Use of stage directions and their importance (What, specifically, do they reveal? How does the writer use them?)

In the play, Ibsen’s stage directions are very detailed in showing character’s emotions, revealing a character’s social status (in particular revealing the social disparity between certain characters), describing physical characteristics, and also identifying characters’ placement and movements. Ibsen’s stage directions are especially descriptive of characters’ emotions and physical appearances (in particular in their introductions in the play), as they contribute to describing various contrasting features between the characters and also to the themes of the play. The stage directions basically form the physical and psychological characterization. The placement and movements of characters as revealed through the stage directions is important as they reveal the character’s emotions, and at times contribute to the play’s dramatic irony. Ibsen uses his detailed stage directions to contribute to the irony and suspense of the play as they describe the true motives and feelings of characters.

3. Style of play

The endings of each of the acts are marginally more dramatic than the previous. These dramatic endings serve to show a clear aspect of Ibsen’s style in writing. These endings help the reader to connect to the play and feel more inclined towards reading the next act and the following acts. Also, considering the fact that the play is a short one, these chapter endings serve to draw the reader into a state in which he or she does not want to stop reading, a further enhances the feeling of continuity that is contributed to by the unchanging scene. In this way, the reader continues to read the play in a more continuous fashion, and feels the mood of the play more realistically. There is a lot of literary ambiguity in the play as well. The play is very ambiguous in the beginning, and all the facts that surround Hedda’s pregnancy and her past are ambiguous at first, and she continuous to be an enigma throughout the play. Only the very obvious becomes known about Hedda, however generally she is not a very clear character. On the other hand, characters like Tesman are clear and opaque and can be read and understood from the beginning because it seems to be that Ibsen wants the reader to see this aspect of Tesman’s character e.g.: obtuse, stupid, etc.

The play’s style is very unique and it contributes to the idea that the play is a psychological drama. This fact tells us that every aspect of the novel and every word is significant, and this can clearly be seen by the detailed and highly important stage directions that are available at the beginning of each act. Also, throughout the play, Ibsen uses Hedda to manipulate the surroundings within the Tesman Sitting Room, and this helps add to the tension, or suspense, or manipulation that Ibsen cleverly weaves into his writing. However overall, the play can be seen as four acts that have not one wasted word within them, as Ibsen focuses very expertly on everything that is uttered by every character, and every single stage direction that is handled by the actors within the play greatly contributing to the overall psychological aspects that Ibsen focuses on within his plays.

4. Structure (and its importance). How is suspense built?

The play is composed of four acts. These acts mark divisions in time over a period of approximately two days. Each act ending becomes more dramatic and suspenseful where each act reaches a climactic moment when something decisive or irreversible is said or done. For example, Act 2 ends with Hedda forcefully grabbing and dragging Mrs. Elvsted by her hair towards the doorway, while the ending of the subsequent act ends with Hedda burning Eilert Lövborg and Thea’s manuscript. The suspense is built as each act ends in rising action that takes the play to a new level of tension. It is also noteworthy how the end of the play, where Hedda commits suicide, is also the climax of the play.

5. Characterization – major, detailed analysis of ALL characters in the play and their importance – Are the characters symbolic in any way?

Hedda Gabler: Hedda is the main protagonist and can also be seen as the main antagonist. This is significant because different readers choose to see Hedda in different ways: either the victim or the manipulator. She can be seen in both lights simply because she is a woman trapped in a man’s body, and the man is a manipulative corrupt character. In any case, she can be seen as both things combined. Another reason for which she is a victim is that society expects a lot from a woman of her social standing, and so she is required to do things and to refrain from doing other things simply because of what society expects of her. This also includes the predetermined role that women must play in society and the unchanging fact that Hedda would be a successful human had she been a man. Hedda Gabler is a very specific character: she wants to mould a human destiny, however she greatly fears scandals. These two aspects of her personality allow her to create the bulk of the play’s plot.

George Tesman: An uncreative character who is good at only one thing: research. He is an obtuse person who becomes a very clear annoyance to Hedda. The dialogue he is given throughout the play shows his close mindedness and how annoying a character he can be. He is also a boring academic, and has been protected by his aunts for the bulk of his life. Miss Tesman is very protective of Tesman, and so is Berta. They all seem to have their lives surrounding taking care of and cradling someone which in this case is George. Also, Tesman is a complete opposite to Hedda, as he cares about things that Hedda simply doesn’t. Also, it is significant to note that Hedda and Tesman got married over a technicality in which Tesman assumed that owning Tesman’s Villa would make Hedda happy.

Thea Elvsted: Thea is a slightly naïve character, or has been one in the past. Her actions show this, and her actions also prove her to be a foil to Hedda. This is mainly because she has courage, a trait clearly missing in Hedda’s character. She proves her courage when she runs away from her husband; her courage also constantly makes Hedda jealous. Also, Thea had a significant influence on creating the manuscript which was called the “child” of Thea and Lövborg, and so the two characters share a connection that Hedda does not. Also, Thea and Tesman share the job of recreating the manuscript, and without any effort Thea moulds a human destiny. This causes Hedda to be even more jealous and is a contributing factor in Hedda’s suicide.

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Judge Brack: Brack is a well connected judge. He is seen as a respected man in society and also adheres to society’s rules and the expectations that Hedda must follow. However, since Brack is a male, he is able to accomplish much more in his life. This is seen by his constant yearning for the love triangle between Tesman Hedda and Brack. His ability to confront the situation shows how corrupt an individual he is, and how different life is for males in this society simply because it is a society built for and run by males. He also blackmails Hedda ...

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