Hedda Gabler Essay, Research Paper
A Craving for Life
In Henrik Isben’s Hedda Gabler, he masterfully portrays the main character, Hedda, as “neither a monster nor a saint?[she] is simply a tragic character who is destroyed by the unharmonious and irreconcilable contrasts in her own character.” Ultimately, this very unique character brings about her own demise. She is truly neither good nor evil, but in the end, this “tragic character” inevitably digs her own grave.
Isben first expresses Hedda’s emotional sterility by showing how she is unable to reciprocate in a relationship. Like a young child, she can only receive without knowing how to give in return. Without reciprocating she accepts George’s love and support. Later on, when Lovberg recalls his previous relationship with Hedda, he describes how she extracted detailed confessions from him yet withheld her own inner emotions and revelations. This highly intense interest with the lives of others is another aspect of her empty emotional life. While at the same time of investigating and analyzing other people’s lives is one way for Hedda to gain some understanding of her own unsatisfied self, she ultimately reveals that she herself is very frail, fragile, and self-centered. It is this indeed that puts Hedda on her path to a tragic destruction, a path that is being taken rather quickly.
Another way in which Isben portrays Hedda’s contrast in her own character is through Hedda’s destroying the manuscript in Act III. In destroying the manuscript, she inevitably kills the child she was unable to bear for Lovborg. By destroying that work of others that she should have accomplished herself, Hedda also destroys those constant reminders of her own inadequacies. Symbolically denying the life works of others, Hedda affirms her own unsatisfied sense of worth.
Not having any positive influence in the world, Hedda Gabler can only define herself negatively: she destroys what she cannot accept. Undermining her husband with her coldness, denying her pregnancy, destroying Thea’s life work, burning Lovborg’s creative product, ruining the child manuscript, and finally, committing suicide, are all perverted attempts to satisfy her tragic “craving for life.”