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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Hedda Gabler Tessman

Hedda Gabler Tessman, the daughter of General Gabler. She is the exciting but unenthusiastic bride of George Tessman, who holds a scholarship for research into the history of civilization. Back from a six-month wedding trip during which George studied civilization, Hedda is dangerously bored. She keeps as her prize possession her father’s pistols, with which she plays on occasion. She also plays with people: with George’s Aunt Julia, whose new bonnet Hedda pretends to think belongs to the servant; with George, who has bought her a villa that she pretended to want and who now must buy her a piano because her old one does not suit her new home; with an old school acquaintance, Thea Elvsted, who has rescued Hedda’s talented former lover, Eilert Lovberg, from drink; with Eilert Lovberg, whom she cannot bear to see rescued by Mrs. Elvsted; and with Judge Brack, who outmaneuvers her and pushes her over the brink of endurance to her death. Hedda is a complete egocentric, caring for no one and careless of life for herself and for others. Badly spoiled, she seems to find her only pleasure in making others miserable. She finds Eilert Lovberg more amusing than anyone else, even though she had dismissed him when she was free. When she realizes that he has destroyed his career, she gives him a pistol and tells him to use it—beautifully. When the pistol discharges accidentally and injures him fatally in the boudoir of Mademoiselle Diana, and when Judge Brack convinces her that he knows where Eilert got the pistol, Hedda takes its mate, goes to her room, and shoots herself in the temple, but not before she has seen Mrs. Elvsted quietly gain a hold on George Tessman.

George Tessman

George Tessman, Hedda’s husband, a sincere, plodding young man dazzled by his bride but devoted to his work. When Hedda burns Eilert’s manuscript, which George has found, she tells George that she did so to keep Eilert from surpassing him, but in reality she burned it because Eilert wrote it with Mrs. Elvsted and they call it their “child.” George’s surprised horror at her deed turns to warm delight when he thinks that Hedda loves him enough to destroy the manuscript for his sake. When Mrs. Elvsted says that she has notes for the manuscript, George says that he is just the man to work on someone else’s manuscript and that they can put the book together again. Sincerely delighted that he can help restore the lost valuable book, he plans to work evenings with Mrs. Elvsted, to the disgust of Hedda, who in cold, calm rage and despair shoots herself.

Eilert Lovberg

Eilert Lovberg, a former suitor of Hedda who has written a book in the same field as Tessman’s. He could easily win the appointment that Tessman expects, but he decides not to compete with him. Since Hedda broke up their association, after it threatened to become serious, he has been living with the family of Sheriff Elvsted, teaching the Elvsted children and writing another book. His manuscript completed, he comes to town. In his writing and in his reform from his old wild ways, he has been inspired by Mrs. Elvsted. Eilert shows the effects of hard living. As soon as Hedda has an opportunity, she reasserts her control over him, destroying his confidence in Mrs. Elvsted and persuading him to resume his drinking. Hedda says that he will return “with vine leaves in his hair—flushed and fearless.” Instead, he returns defeated, having lost his manuscript. He tells Thea Elvsted that all is over between them, because he has destroyed the manuscript, but he has merely lost it and is ashamed to tell her so. After leaving Judge Brack’s party, he had gone to the rooms of Mademoiselle Diana, a redheaded entertainer whom he had known in his riotous days. There, missing his manuscript, he had accused Diana and her friends of robbing him. When the police appeared, he struck a constable and was carried off to the police station. Released the next day, he...

(The entire section is 1,056 words.)