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20091112-930 Hedda Gabler, day 2 (Group 1)

Page history last edited by skiser@... 10 years, 10 months ago



       Today's lecture began with the question of why Hedda does what she does.  As a class we discussed three different things that Hedda does throughout the play and her motives behind each.  They include giving the gun to Lovborg, her suicide, and burning the manuscript.  The first was motivated by Hedda's desire to regain control over Lovborg and her boredom. Her boredom is most likely due to the fact that she sits around all day because she doesn’t have a job, children to care for, or a house to clean because she has a maid. Hedda’s boredom is also due to her belief that she is better than others around her based on her social rank.


     Hedda's suicide is a bleak contrast to the previous discussion of her boredom, because it is an action that causes her to not sit back and watch things occur.  Rather, it gives her the opportunity to take control.  The concept of control can be a controversial one in this play.  The use of control ends up with two of the characters dying.  We see Hedda begin to realize her loss of control with the burning of the manuscript. Hedda begins to panic when she realizes that Thea has control over Lovborg.  The manuscript represents Thea and Lovborg's creativity together, so she destroys it in an effort to ruin their bond. The irony with Hedda's logic of control leads her to lose it all.  Hedda’s suicide was a deed of spontaneous beauty in her atypical view.  This concept is strictly based on where she shot herself; the temple vs. the stomach.  A shot in the temple is the ultimate assertion of control over oneself which in Hedda’s mind was beautiful. While a shot in the stomach results in a messy death which isn’t beautiful.


Words: 299





Hedda:  Yes of course; and no doubt when it's your vocation--But I! Oh, my dear Mr. Brack, how mortally bored I have been.

Brack:  (sympathetically) Do you really say so? In downright earnest?

Hedda:  Yes, you can surely understand it--! To go for six whole months without meeting a soul that knew anything of our circle, or could talk about the things we are interested in.     (Act II p. 27) 


This section of dialogue from the play shows how Hedda is bored of her husband because George was wrapped up in his research.  She was also bored because she has a very narrow view of the world and is not interested in the activities of the people outside of her small circle in Scandinavia. (Act II p. 27)


Lovborg:  Yes, yes, Hedda!  Was there not?--When I used to come to your father's in the afternoon--and the General sat over at the window reading his papers--with his back towards us--

Hedda:  And we two on the corner sofa--

Lovborg:  Always with the same illustrated paper before us--

Hedda:  For want of an album, yes.

Lovborg:  Yes, Hedda, and when I made my confessions to you--told you about my self, things that at that time no one else knew!  There I would sit and tell you of my escapades--my days and nights of devilment.  Oh, Hedda--what was the power in you that forced me to confess these things?                    (Act II p.38-39)


This excerpt from the play reveals the relationship that Hedda and Lovborg had when they were younger.  Lovborg's last statement also reveals that Hedda used to love listening to Lovborg's escapades because he was quite scandalous and Hedda enjoys hearing about scandals that she is not involved in.


Mrs. Elvsted:  (gloomily) A woman's shadow stands between Eilert Lovborg and me.

Hedda:  (looks at her anxiously) Who can that be?

Mrs. Elvsted: I don't know.  Some one he knew in his--in his past.  Some one he has never been able wholly to forget.

Hedda:  What has he told you--about this?

Mrs. Elvsted:  He has only once--quite vaguely--alluded to it.

Hedda: Well!  And what did he say?

Mrs. Elvsted:  He said that when they parted, she threatened to shoot him with a pistol.   (Act I p.18-19)


In this section of the play, it is revealed that Lovborg is not over some woman in his past, i.e. Hedda.  Hedda threatened to shoot him with a pistol because he was overstepping the boundaries of their relationship as she defined them. Therefore, she had to end their friendship.


Lovborg: It will not end with last night- I know that perfectly well.  And the thing is that now I have no taste for that sort of life either. I won't begin it anew.  She has broken my courage and power of braving life out.

Hedda: (Looking straight before her).  So thatpretty little fool has had her fingers in a man's destiny. (Looks at him.)  But all the same, how could you treat her so heartless!   (Act 3 p.58)


The idea of control and Hedda wanting to control things is shown throughout the play.  In this section, it shows Hedda's discontent or jealousy of Thea's control over Lovborg.  She doesn't like the idea of someone else controling his life, which leads to later in the play her giving him the gun.





aristocracy- any class or group considered to be superior, as through education, ability, wealth, or social prestige

vicarious- felt or undergone as if one were taking part in the experience of feelings of another (Hedda experiences pleasure through watching others experience it instead)

Dionysian-  recklessly uninhibited; unrestrained; undisciplined











Comments (3)

whitnej@... said

at 12:39 am on Nov 16, 2009

Hey guys, I was looking through my notes concerning the reason for burning the manuscript. Does anyone have suggestions for how to word that portion of the notes? My seem to be a bit confusing. Also, what do ya'll think of organizing the summary through the three actions and reasons for the actions Hedda takes throughout the play? Thanks!

whitnej@... said

at 12:46 am on Nov 16, 2009

anymore terms suggestions?

Brian Croxall said

at 5:45 pm on Nov 17, 2009

This was a difficult day of class to take notes for since we covered so much ground. I'm glad to see that you used 299 out of 300 words. You identify the three big questions that the play might cause us to ask as we finish reading it. You do the best job in talking about why she burns the manuscript. With Hedda's own death, I was surprised that you didn't talk about how she needed to escape the control that Brack was going to be exercising over her. Even more surprising was how little time got spent on why she gives Lovborg the gun. We spent almost all of the class period on this question, including considering the importance of the vine-leaves. You are of course limited in what you accomplish in the summary, but you could have used the passages to cover more completely what we do in class.

For the passages, the first thing is that you have too many; there's a limit of three. Second, while we discussed all of these passages, some of them aren't as germane to understanding why Hedda does what she does (particularly your first and third choices).

All this being said, you took a very full day of notes and put it into a pretty good package.

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