How many triangular relationships exist in Hedda Gabler and why are they significant?

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The main triangular relationships in Hedda Gabler concern Hedda herself. The most significant one links her to her husband, George Tesman, and her former lover, Eilert Lovborg. A second triangle concerning Hedda connects her and George to their friend and Hedda’s confidant Judge Brack, who proves to be an extortionist. Hedda is also connected to Lovborg and his devoted companion, Thea Elvsted. The three men are connected primarily through George and Eilert’s professional association, and together they attend the party that leads to Eilert’s downfall.

The relationship among Hedda, Thea, and Eilert is interesting in terms of Henrik Ibsen’s characterization of women, and because it is a major contributor to Hedda’s death. Hedda is a hard character to sympathize with as she cannot forge genuinely close relationships. Ibsen builds on the trite stereotype that women cannot have genuine friendships with each other. Hedda is not interested in other women. She would prefer to circulate in the man’s world, and has been drawn to Eilert because he is daring and exciting. Her relationships with both Thea and Eilert were largely a thing of the past: she was an unkind schoolmate of Thea’s and her romance with Eilert ended before she married George. Each of them separately stands for the past, but together they constitute the potential productive future that Hedda cannot have; Thea proves herself a true partner to Eilert by sacrificing respectability for him. The news that Thea and Eilert are together is the catalyst for Hedda’s rash and vindictive actions, which ultimately lead her to the tragic ending.

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