While Hedda is associated with her father's pistols, Tesman is associated with the slippers his aunt gave him. In so doing, the play once again uses props for symbolism while also using this symbolism to construct the two characters as foils of each other. Having said that, what does this use of symbolism tell us about Tesman's character and Tesman and Hedda's relationship?

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Throughout Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen conveys the reversal of gendered roles as a primary component of the Tesmans’ marriage. The two symbols indicate the vast gulf between them and the weak foundation of their marriage.

The pistols are an appropriate symbol of Hedda’s relationship with her father, General Gabler....

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Throughout Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen conveys the reversal of gendered roles as a primary component of the Tesmans’ marriage. The two symbols indicate the vast gulf between them and the weak foundation of their marriage.

The pistols are an appropriate symbol of Hedda’s relationship with her father, General Gabler. As a military man, he was used to handling weapons. He tended to treat his daughter as if she were his son, teaching her to shoot. Because her father has passed away, the pistols are a potent memento of the bond they shared, but they also remind Hedda of her loss. As a common phallic representation, a gun is also a masculine symbol. The pistols are also important because the references to them serve as foreshadowing for Hedda’s using them to take her own life.

While Hedda is a woman who was closest to her father, George Tesman is contrasted to her as a man who was raised by a female relative, his aunt. Not only is he extremely close to her, but he has developed a love of domestic comfort; both their ongoing affectionate relationship and domesticity are symbolized by the slippers. Furthermore, domesticity is not Hedda’s forte; she scorns the traditional role of wife and mother. Along with wearing slippers, domestic comfort may also be associated with sitting by the fireplace, which becomes an instrument of destruction when Hedda burns Lovborg’s manuscript or “baby.”

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