44 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

Hedda Gabler

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1890

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Act I

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Act I, Pages 21-30 Summary

Content Warning: This play pivots around Hedda Gabler’s death by suicide and the ambiguous death by suicide or accidental death of Ejlert Løvborg. It also discusses alcohol addiction.

Act I begins in the home of the newly married Jørgen and Hedda Tesman (née Gabler). Tesman’s aunt, Miss Juliane Tesman, enters the living room with Berthe, a maid. Juliane raised Tesman after his parents died. Tesman and Hedda are not awake yet because they returned late from their honeymoon the night before. Berthe used to work for Juliane but will now work for the Tesmans. She worries her work will not be up to Hedda’s standards. Juliane is proud of Tesman for receiving his doctorate. 

Tesman enters. He invites Juliane to take off her hat and sit down. Juliane says that her hat is new; she bought it to impress Hedda. Tesman asks after his other aunt, Rina, whom Juliane cares for. Rina is bedridden and will not get better. Juliane asks about Tesman’s honeymoon and then asks if he has “any other news” (26). Tesman does not understand what she is getting at. 

Juliane asks how Tesman and Hedda like their new house. Tesman says that Hedda insisted they buy this house, as she could not “be happy unless she could live in the old Falk villa” (27).