How can a summary of Hedda Gabler be reduced to one sentence?

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Gracie O'Hara eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hedda Gabler is one of several women in Ibsen's plays caught within a social system which gives them relatively little scope for action or creativity. The heroines of both "Hedda Gabler" and "Doll's House" feel trapped by situations in which they are desparately unhappy. Both Nora ("Doll's House") and Hedda are driven to take extreme measures to escape their positions, Nora abandoning her children and Hedda committing suicide. In neither case does Ibsen intend us to read this works simply as stories of "bad" or "self-serving" women, but rather as condemnations of social circumstances which trap the protagonists in situations in which all choices are bad.

In some ways the distinction between enduring classics and much popular fiction is that in popular fiction, you can often make easy judgements to separate the "good guys" from the "bad guys". In Ibsen, instead, you are intended to see dilemmas which cannot be resolved. This is the essential tragic experience.

As you read Ibsen's plays, try to understand the points of view of all the characters and the forces which motivate their actions. How do certain choices in their lives, often made in youthful ignorance, drive the characters inexorably to a unhappy ending?

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Hedda Gabler is a four-act play by Henrik Ibsen. The main character, Hedda, has just returned from her honeymoon with her new husband George. While George and his family seem very nice, we find that Hedda is rude, manipulative and unnecessarily unkind to those in George's household.

Hedda is selfish, proud, and cold, cruelly heedless of the pain she inflicts on others in her efforts to satisfy the inner desires...

As the play moves along, Hedda gathers information from Thea...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 580 words.)

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