Hedda Gabler

En kvinnas vilja till makt


  • Roland Lysell




Ibsen, Hedda Gabler, symbolist drama, interpretation, Emperor and Galilaean, drama theory


Hedda Gabler: A Woman's Will to Power

Hedda Gabler (1890) is the eighth of Henrik Ibsen’s twelve social plays from The Pillars of Society (1877) to When We Dead Awaken (1899). Most critics and stage directors construe it as a play in the realist tradition and as a pièce bien faite. In this essay, I argue for a different kind of interpretation based on the important studies of the play by Else Høst, John Northam and Brian Johnston. Like Høst, I start with the protagonist’s (Hedda’s) comments about vine leaves in Ejlert Løvborg’s (her former suitor’s) hair. Through these comments, Hedda can be associated to the wineleaves of Emperor Julian in Ibsen’s Emperor and Galilean (1873), where the protagonists Julian and Maximos, a kind of mystic, discuss a utopian realm built on both the Dionysic Greek and the Christian mystical tradition. Hedda is a late follower of this mysticism. In this essay, I emphasize the existential aspect of Hedda’s searching for authentic values.

I consider Hedda as an outsider, although she is involved in a fight for power, just as the other characters are. The other characters are described in detail and their actions are fully understandable, whereas Hedda’s character lacks determination. We do not know why she married Tesman. We do not know if she is pregnant. We do not know why she sets fire to Løvborg’s manuscript. Jealousy is too weak an explanation. Whereas the other characters search for the lukewarm indifference of everyday life, Hedda aims at the magnificent and the impossible. She represents the indeterminate aspect of the play, she is the character which does not fit into the realist structure, the character looking beyond and above the other characters, the character open to completely different interpretations, also on stage. Through her suicide she motivates the reader and the spectator to reflect on the metaphysical aspects of life.


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Referera så här

Lysell, R. (2022). Hedda Gabler: En kvinnas vilja till makt. Tidskrift för Litteraturvetenskap, 51(3-4). https://doi.org/10.54797/tfl.v51i3-4.1684