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MonkeyNotes-Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
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CONFLICT

Protagonist/Antagonist:

From the outset it must be stated that the play revolves around the manipulative, yet attractive figure of Hedda Gabler. There are no other characters that form a counterpoise to her. They are merely put in to highlight her inadequacies and her reactions. As such Hedda Gabler is both the protagonist as well as the antagonist in the play. She is highly imaginative and has an intense appetite for beauty yet she is mean, envious, insolent, cruel and unable to break from societal norms. At heart, she is a coward but still wants to control the destiny of other people. In a fit of jealousy, she burns Lövborg's manuscript and gives him one of her pistols to commit suicide, with the injunction to "do it beautifully." When she hears that he was shot in the "bowels" and not the "temple" she comes to the realization that everything she touches is sour and ludicrous. Finding that she is completely in Brack's power she shoots herself in the temple. Though Hedda is an example of perverted femininity, she also is a rebel against 19th century society's narrow conception of women as being docile and innocuous.

Climax:

The climatic scene takes place at the end of Act III, when Hedda burns Lövborg's manuscript. She does this in a fit of jealousy because, unlike Mrs. Elvsted, she does not have the power to mold human destiny. She too would lie to direct someone's life and if she cannot do it positively she will do it destructively. She destroys the manuscript for another reason. The manuscript represents the "child" of Mrs. Tesman's and Lövborg's efforts and the "child" Hedda cannot bear him. She also lies to Lövborg about the manuscript and gives him one of her pistols to shoot himself because he is bereft at having lost it.


Outcome:

Hedda's "craving for life" ends with her suicide. When she realizes that Lövborg did not die beautifully, that he did not shoot himself in the temple but in the bowels, she is disillusioned. Also, finding that she is completely in Brack's power, and fearing an imminent scandal of her contribution to Lövborg's death, she commits a valiant suicide by shooting herself in the temple.

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