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The detailed stage setting in this act indicates there has been a death -- the drawing room is in darkness, the curtains over the glass door are drawn close, Hedda is dressed in black and Berte's eyes are red with weeping. Though the house is in mourning because of Aunt Rina's death, the gloomy setting is also a backdrop for Lövborg and Hedda's upcoming deaths. Aunt Julia's decision to take in an invalid in want of nursing in order to keep herself occupied reveals what a closed society these characters live in. Aunt Julia must conform to a position of caretaker regardless if it is kin or not.
Tesman is uneasy about Lövborg's condition because he realizes that he is implicated in Lövborg's ruin if he does not return the manuscript. He wants to do the right thing yet when he finds out that Hedda has burned the manuscript, he is at first beside himself, and then concedes to Hedda's vision that she did it for him. He is flattered by her actions as she has never revealed herself emotionally to him.
Mrs. Elvsted's true love for Lövborg is in direct contrast with Hedda's feigned love for Tesman. Even though Lövborg has rebuffed her, she cannot leave him. When she hears rumors about him, she comes directly to Hedda for confirmation. Hedda is surprised that Mrs. Elvsted has risked her reputation and gone to Lövborg's lodgings for news about him. When Brack confirms that he is on the point of death, she wants to see him alive because they "parted in anger." She does not heed Hedda's caution to be discreet because she is not concerned about public opinion as Hedda is.
The news of his death at first comes as a blow yet minutes after she hears of his fate, she sits down with Tesman to reconstruct "the child" from the old notes she has preserved. For the first time, Tesman forgets his beautiful Hedda and Tesman is perfectly happy to be engrossed in the congenial task of collecting and arranging another man's idea. Mrs. Elvsted commands the situation as she holds what is left of Lövborg in her pocket and takes on a labor of love. She also manages to avert Tesman's attention from Hedda to herself just as Hedda had averted Lövborg's attention from Mrs. Elvsted.
Brack's hold over her increases as he reveals that he has the information the police will need in order to identify the pistol. He warns her that she might be implicated in Lövborg's death because of the weapon he used and this idea arouses her deep-seated fears of scandal. Brack is an extortionist, who will use what he can in attain Hedda Gabler as his mistress. For Hedda, nothing is worse than scandal; therefore she will have to pander to Brack's demands. Besides that, Hedda has no interests in life, no vocation or ability to live through anyone else as Thea does. She attempted to live through Lövborg yet would not go the extra mile and become involved with him emotionally or sexually. Instead, she took the safe route and now she must resign herself to being under the influence of an unscrupulous man and the wife of an absent husband. Mrs. Elvsted, Tesman and Aunt Julia have each found a vocation in life but Hedda faces life without a future.
Her death is done quickly and without the least bit of sentiment. She knows what she has to do and does it nobly as she imagined Lövborg doing it. The music she plays reveals the dying of her soul, its one last spark, its swan song before death. In death Hedda succeeds where Lövborg had failed. Finally, she had done something. She has taken action yet no one understands exactly why she did it except herself. Therefore she dies alienated and alone as she was in life.