Word Count: 818A spider becomes caught in its own web. This is an example of an attemptedmanipulation that went awry. Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, is a work about a womanwho manipulates the fates of others in order to fulfill her own wishes. The title characteris a woman who has recently returned from a six month honeymoon with her groom,Tesman, a man whom she does not love. She strives for freedom, but she feels as if shecannot leave her marriage. To occupy her time, she manipulates the lives of everyonearound her. Hedda kills herself after becoming engorged in her own manipulations. Through the use of theme, setting, and then-current affairs, the play produces a work thatuniquely portrays the sources of the motivations of this manipulative woman. Whether it be the burning of her former loves manuscript or supplying him withthe pistol to shoot himself, Heddas indignity shows the ability of man to have totaldisregard for the life of another. Hedda coldly manipulates the lives of everyone aroundher. Through these exploitive actions, she ruins the lives of all of her colleagues. Becauseshe is not happy in her marriage, she attempts to forbid anyone else to live a content life. For example, after she persuades Eljert Lovborg to consume alcohol, he ruins hisreputation and loses something that is most precious to him: the manuscript of a bookthat he had been writing with Mrs. Elvsted. Although Hedda realizes the importance ofthis manuscript to both Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted, she lights it on fire and it burns. Because Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted have put their souls into this manuscript, Heddametaphorically relates her action to burning their child. This cold thoughtlessnessdemonstrates Heddas disregard for the life of a fellow human being. Heddas actions ultimately lead to her demise. After giving Lovborg her pistol andsaying that he must kill himself, Heddas cruel intentions are finally revealed. Judge Bracklearns of her dealings and, thus, gains an opportunity to take advantage of this situation. When Hedda realizes that she will always be at the mercy of Judge Brack, she does theonly thing she can do to escape this situation; she shoots herself. Throughout hermanipulations, Hedda maintains a facade of innocence. Her truly hateful nature, though, isdisplayed through her actions that relate this theme of mans inhumanity to man.
One may be able to determine the cause for Heddas desire to manipulate when thesetting is examined. The whole of the play occurs indoors. Therefore, Hedda isconstantly submerged in a place in which she is unhappy. Because her husband Tesman isconstantly occupied with other happenings, Hedda is left in a setting that lends itself toplans of manipulation. Heddas true dreams and aspirations are those of freedom andindependence. Her setting however, is an opposite to her favor. While Hedda maintains adesire to be free to do as she pleases, her situation is one in which she is confined in herhome. Because she constantly remains in this monotonous setting, she occupies her timewith scheming against everyone around her. This is perhaps the principal cause forHeddas manipulations.
In addition to the setting, the time period in which Hedda Gabler was written iskey to the background of Heddas manipulations. The late nineteenth century was a timefor change for the women of the world. The womens suffrage movement brought forththe concept of the importance womans rights. I am sure many would regard this play asbeing a feminist play, Hedda Gabler investigates the consequences of excessive feminism. Hedda Gabler is portrayed as an extremely strong-willed woman. During the timesin which this play is set, numerous womens rights and suffrage movements wereoccurring across the world. It can be seen that Heddas moderately aggressive attitude ischaracteristic of the time period. To Hedda, it is absurd that she would have to be underthe power of a man. At this time women across the world were adopting new ideas ontheir place in society. The atmosphere of the era provides an explanation of the source ofHeddas manipulations. The three aspects that explain Heddas motivations for manipulation shed muchlight on Heddas overall desire for manipulation. Truthfully, Hedda desires to manipulatethe lives of others because she cannot manipulate her own life. She does not want toremain in her marriage, but she lacks the courage to get out of it. Because of the timesand her situation, she feels that she cannot leave her husband. It seems as if thesemanipulations are a sick form of entertainment for Hedda. One could regard this play as apurely feminist work or as the story of a woman who has no regard for human life. Ineither way in which it is regarded, Ibsen realistically portrays the motivations of HeddaGabler through his use of theme, setting, and current events.