Henrik Ibsen

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Does the character of Lovborg in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler represent glory?

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Hedda Gabler clings to her faith in Lovborg's glory as long as she can. It's not simply that she believes in his glory; she wants to believe in it, too. If Lovborg can achieve glory—in this case, through a heroic suicide—that will reflect well on Hedda; it'll be a feather in her cap. It will show the whole world that she had power over him and that right up until the last he remained firmly under the spell of her intoxicating love.

To the outside world, Lovborg's suicide may seem to represent the complete antithesis of glory—but not to Hedda. For largely selfish reasons, she sees it as a genuinely courageous act, displaying the kind of bravery notable by its usual absence from the life of this hopeless alcoholic.

Much to the consternation of Tesman, Thea, and Brack, Hedda positively exults over Lovborg's suicide, seeing it as beautiful and liberating in equal measure. But that is only because she sees her former lover's final act as a reflection of the power she continued to exert over him. It's not so much Lovborg's glory that Hedda is luxuriating in here but her own.

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The character of Eilert Lovborg in the story Hedda Gabler, by Henrik Ibsen, does have a brush with glory because he has the talent, intelligence, ability, and ambition to become a very glorious scholar and academician. He is capable of mingling with the right crowds, and charming the right women. He is obviously very well-versed and lets out, in most of his work, a quality of educated thinking that leaves his rivals quite behind.

This is precisely what makes Hedda so angry: Lovborg, who is her former lover, is more successful and gifted than Hedda's own husband. This is a clear blow to her narcissistic ego.

The problem with Lovborg, however, is that he is as talented as he is weak of character. He does charm the ladies, but ends up in all sorts of problems because of it. He drinks a lot, and gets frustrated easily. Like many other genius people his eccentricities include carelesness, exemplified by the moment when he misplaces the manuscript. In all, although Lovborg is a very strong man in terms of book-smarts, he is a very vulnerable human being. This could bring him rocketing down from any glorious position, which is exactly what happens in the end.  

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