Is the Underground Man (Hedda Gabler) a pathological narcissist, or is his (her) perception of society and his (her) place within it rational?

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Hedda is a narcissist, but at the same time, one could argue that she merely sees life more realistically and practically than others do. If her mindset is pathological, this is perhaps less due to any inherent mental disturbance than to the convergence of anomalous situations and eccentric characters Ibsen presents in his play.

Hedda is married to the rather nerdish Tesman, a man whose absent-minded and remote bearing would drive most women crazy, whether they are narcissists or not. The intrusion of her former lover Eilert Lovberg into her life becomes a trigger for Hedda's rebellion not only against her restrictive marriage, but against the whole set of rules by which women at that time were expected to live. She is, to an extent, arguably a...

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