Hedda Gabler By Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen portrays a microcosm of nineteenth century Norwegian society in his
play Hedda Gabler. Hedda, the protagonist, exhibits a mixture of masculine and
feminine traits due to her unique upbringing under General Gabler and the social
mores imposed upon her. However, although this society venerates General Gabler
because of his military status, his daughter Hedda is not tolerated due to her
non-conformity to the accepted gender stereotypes. Hedda's gender-inverted
marriage to Jorgan Tesman, her desire for power and her use of General Gabler's
pistols are unacceptable in her society and motif of "One doesn't do such a
thing!" that is alluded to during the play and expounded upon Hedda's death
that shows that Hedda's uncertain stance between masculine and feminine gender
roles and their associated traits is not tolerated by her society. Ibsen employs
a reversal of traditional gender roles within Hedda and Jorgen Tesman's marriage
to emphasises Hedda's masculine traits. Hedda displays no emotion or affection
towards her husband Jorgen. This appearance of indifference is a trait that is
usually common to men: Tesman - "My old morning shoes. My slippers
look!...I missed them dreadfully. Now you should see them, Hedda." Hedda -
"No thanks, it really doesn't interest me'. In another gender role
reversal, Hedda displays a financial awareness, which her husband, Jorgen does
not posses. Although Brack corresponds with Tesman about his honeymoon travels,
he corresponds with Hedda concerning the financial matters. This is a role that
is usually reserved for men. Hedda does not only display traits, which are
definitively masculine, or feminine, she also objects to and often defies the
conventions established for her gender by society. She rejects references to her
pregnancy as a reminder of her gender: Tesman - "Have you noticed how plump
(Hedda's) grown, and how well she is? How much she's filled out on our
travels?" Hedda - "Oh be quiet!" Hedda is reminded not only of
her feminine role of mother and nurturer here, but also as wife and
"appendage" to Tesman: "And to think is was you who carried off

Hedda Gabler! The lovely Hedda Gabler!...now that you have got the wife your
heart was set on." As a woman of the haute bourgeoisie, Hedda is
"sought after" and "always had so many admirers" and has
been "acquired" by Tesman as hide wife. Hedda resents the gender
conventions that dictate that she now "belongs" to the Tesman family -
a situation that would not occur were she a man: Tesman - "Only it seems to
me now that you belong to the family..." Hedda- " Well, I really don't
know..." Although these traits displayed by Hedda are masculine, they are
not those, which her society cannot tolerate. To entertain herself in her
"boring" marriage she plays with her father's, General Gabler's,
pistols: Hedda - "Sometimes I think I only have a talent for one
thing...boring myself to death!" "I still have one thing to kill time
with. My pistols, Jorgen. General Gabler's pistols" Jorgen - "For
goodness' sake! Hedda darling! Don't touch those dangerous things! For my sake,

Hedda!". These pistols are a symbol of masculinity and are associated with
war, a pastime which women are excluded from other than in the nurturing role of
nurses and are thus not tolerated by society. Tesman implores Hedda to cease
playing with them, but even his "superior" position as her husband
does not dissuade Hedda, who is found to be playing with them by Brack at the
beginning of act two. Brack also reminds Hedda of the inappropriate nature of
her "entertainment" and physically takes the pistols away from Hedda.

Hedda - "I'm going to shoot you sir!" Brack - "No, no, no!...Now
stop this nonsense!" [taking the pistol gently out of her hand]. If you
don't mind, my dear lady....Because we're not going to play that game any more
today." As a parallel to Hedda's masculine game of playing with General

Gabler's pistols, Hedda plays the traditionally female role of a
"minx" with Brack. Hedda - "Doesn't it feel like a whole eternity
since we last talked to each other?" Brack - "Not like this, between
ourselves? Alone together, you mean?" Hedda - "Yes, more or less
that" Brack - "Here was I, every blessed day, wishing to goodness you
were home again" Hedda - "And there was I, the whole time, wishing
exactly the same" At the beginning of act two, Hedda encourages Brack's
flirtation with her by telling him the true nature of her marriage to Tesman
that it is a marriage of convenience: Brack - "But, tell me...I don't