Monday, June 13, 2011

Hedda Gabler: Relationships

Comment on the relationships in the play and what they represent.

So, we've started a new play in class, Hedda Gabler - by Henrik Ibsen. Before I "comment on the relationships" I'd like to first comment on the characters we're introduced to in Act One. Auntie Ju-Ju, The Maid - Bertha, George Tesman, Mrs Elvsted and Judge Brack. We also hear about the character, Eilert Loevburg - but aren't yet introduced to him...

So, let's start with the anti-heroine, of sorts,

Hedda Gabler: 
She's a sort of "Femme Fatale". Daughter of the famous General Gabler (who left her some pistols..hmm..) Her whole life, beautiful Hedda has been used to a luxurious lifestyle - with everything revolving around her. She's intelligent, a bit dishonest, cold and manipulative and also she's pregnant, or at least that's implied. More importantly, she doesn't want to be pregnant. She's just come back from a honeymoon with the scholar, George Tesman - it lasted 6 months, which was probably her idea given her needs for an indulgent life.  

Next character: George Tesman
The lovely Hedda's new husband. Not exactly in her league. He's a scholar, amiable but ignorant. He likes to avoid conflicts; shown when JuJu and Hedda butt heads towards the beginning of Act One. He tries very hard to please Hedda, but Hedda always seems to find problems with every attempt he (or anyone else for that matter) makes to please her, he annoys her a bit - and consequently the audience seems to get a bit annoyed with him too (or at least I did.) He's hoping for a professorship. 

Character 3: Auntie JuJu 

The lovely elder Aunt of George Tesman. She was his "mother and father." She's protective of George and brings him his slippers. She aspires to be a pseudo-grandmother, so is keen to hear of any "happy events" arising out of Tesman and Hedda's honeymoon. She's well-meaning, but Hedda is consistently antagonistic towards her, and the differences in their social statuses is quite apparent (through tastes in hats etc.) 

Linked to Auntie JuJu is Bertha,  she's Auntie JuJu's old maid - transferred from the Aunts house to Tesman's new villa. Once more, she is a character who tries very hard to please Hedda - but Hedda is always dissatisfied with her. Hedda feels she needs to replace Bertha, this, of course, creates tension between Bertha, Hedda and Auntie JuJu. 

Character 4: Mrs Elvsted 

The meek old classmate of Hedda's, grown attatched to Mr. Loevburg (whom she and her husband hired to tutor her children) and has now followed him to town. Hedda used to torment and pull at Mrs. Elvsted's hair - but Hedda says it was all in fun (yeah right.) Hedda seems to be a bit envious of Mrs. Elvsted's past relationship with George, not because she's in love with george - but possibly because she likes things to be about her - and that relationship was not about her. Hedda is also envious of  Mrs. Elvsted's hair. 

Penultimate Character: Judge Brack

An older man, friend to Tesman and Hedda - seems to be worldly. 

Last Character: Eilert Loevburg

This is a guy we only hear bits about: Tesman sees him as a guttersnipe sort of fellow - but it looks like he's been thrown into a competition with him for his professorship: Hedda is keen to see who will win. It's hinted that Loevburg and Hedda were romantically linked. 


So, what are the relationships that we can see at the moment? 

  • Hedda and G. Tesman
      • Not particularly in love, however George is very much infatuated with Hedda (though, what man isn't?). Hedda wears the pants in their relationship, but George seems to be ignorant of her "needs"  Their relationship represents married life, or discontentment in married life.
  • Loevburg and Mrs. Elvsted
      • Elvsted is very much attatched to loevburg, but because Loevburg easily leaves her to go to town, one can assume her attatchment is not reciprocated. 
  • G. Tesman and JuJu
      • This isn't romantic love, but parental love. Following the death of George's parents, Auntie Juliana and Rena became George's guardians. JuJu cares very much for Tesman and his welfare, and George feels the same (as a child does for their parent). JuJu cares so much that she has lent Tesman the money to afford aspects of his house - so now she has a financial stake in Tesman and Hedda's relationship. She also wants babies to come from their marriage. This is representative of a parent-child relationship. 
  • Hedda and JuJu
      • Hedda is very antagonistic towards JuJu - doesn't want to become close to her at all
  • G. Tesman and Mrs Elvsted
      • These two had a past, romantic relationship
  • Hedda and Loevburg
      • It's hinted at the end of Act One, by way of Hedda's pistols, that Hedda and Loevburg had a past, romantic relationship - and that Elvsted is jealous of this (though she doesn't know the "other woman" is Hedda.) 
  • Judge Brack and Tesman
      • Friends, Brack helps Tesman out with money issues
  • Tesman and Loevburg
      • In competition. Tesman seems to almost despise Loevburg. They both have similar aspirations. 

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