44 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

Hedda Gabler

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1890

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Character Analysis

Hedda Gabler

Content Warning: This section contains discussion of suicide. 

Hedda Gabler is the play’s titular character. She is Hedda Tesman when the play begins, due to her recent marriage to Jørgen Tesman; Gabler is her maiden name. Hedda comes from a wealthy family. Juliane and Berthe think of her as fashionable and aloof. Hedda is not happy with her married life and takes out her boredom and frustration on the people around her. She refuses to embrace Tesman’s family as her own, and she is also deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of motherhood, swearing that she has no talent for “things that depend on [her]” (68). 

Hedda’s primary motivator is her desire for power and control. She desperately wants to be able to control her own life, but as a married woman in a society where this is not possible, she turns to manipulating others, like Mrs. Elvsted. She is cruel to Mrs. Elvsted, but she couches this cruelty in appearances of camaraderie and kindness. She manipulates the situation between Ejlert and Mrs. Elvsted so that she can take away Mrs. Elvsted’s control over him. In doing so, she proves to herself and to Mrs. Elvsted that only she truly understands Ejlert, and only she is capable of helping Ejlert give meaning to his life.