Hedda Gabler Questions and Answers
by Henrik Ibsen

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In Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, why did Hedda burn the manuscript?

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The foreword tells us that the inspiration for Hedda's character is likely the wife of a Norwegian composer in Ibsen's day. Accordingly, the woman burned her husband's latest completed symphony because his long absences from home upset her.

In Ibsen's story, Hedda is a jealous, conniving, and disloyal woman. Hedda betrays her friend Thea Elvsted, her husband George Tesman, and the writer Eilert Lövborg. A close reading of the text reveals that Hedda's view of others is predicated on her pride, obsessions, and illusions. Her feelings of grandiosity are actuated by the suffering of others.

Hedda loves neither Tesman nor Thea, despite her pretensions otherwise. She revels in Lovborg's torment when he confesses that he has lost his manuscript. In fact, when Lovborg divulges his intent to end his life, Hedda actually invites him to make his death a beautiful one. She never tells him that she and Tesman actually have the manuscript. Later, Hedda burns Lovborg's manuscript and rejoices that...

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