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Hedda Gabler

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  19,709 ratings  ·  287 reviews
In 1890, Henrik Ibsen premiered Hedda Gabler, a play questioning the role of women in Victorian society. Some audiences have viewed Gabler as a woman driven to desperation simply because her world has turned out to be less charmed than she hoped. For others, she is a victim of her times, unwilling to devote herself, as was expected of her, to the duties of home. Jon Robin...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published May 25th 2001 by Grove Press (first published 1890)
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Mariel
Feb 21, 2013 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: now I am burning your child
Recommended to Mariel by: Sean
I want for once in my life to have power to mould a human destiny.


People are in other rooms, people sitting on sofas and people behind desks. Voices from other rooms and voices carry. People have their destinies as their children in hearts cold ashen wombs worth nothing until it thrown away. I don't want to call it human. I don't see arms and legs and feet.
I felt the tragedy of the loss of Hedda Gabler's life to her own colorless lightning when the speed stopped. Big eyes in a head and I don't k...more
Josh Belville
I suppose in the long run, I prefer Hedda Gabler to Doll's House, if only because Hedda is such an amazing protagonist to watch when you think of the social context of the play being performed in 1890. Today, she seems like a cold, heartless bitch. And even back then, people may have thought that. But she also bucks the trend of the "well made play," by becoming an anti-hero of sorts. And really, who is the one to follow in this play in the first place? George? Eilert? Mrs Elvsted? No one seems...more
Amy
Dark, intriguing, mysteriously ambiguous, and an eponymous heroine that leers away from the 19th Century female stereotype. This work of Ibsen's strips his characters of anything spiritual and focuses intently on the society in which they find themselves in. Hedda's character is, I believe, trapped in an era which she is too modern for. She is trapped in an unhappy marriage simply to keep the middle class lifestyle that a 19th Century woman wouldn't have been able to uphold on her own. Although...more
Carol
Hedda Gabler is truly an intelligent, unpredictable, self-centered, manipulating woman. She enjoys the luxurious lifestyle and has found some poor sap, Jurgen Tesman, to marry her. The play begins with their arrival home from their 6 month honeymoon. Tesman's aunt Julie, arrives at their home to meet the newlyweds with a gift of slippers for Tesman from his sickly aunt Rina. It appears that Hedda's clothing is loose fitting and she seems to be "showing" (pregnant). Hedda insults both her husband...more
Lizzie
Read via DailyLit in 47 parts. (Edmund Gosse and William Archer translation.) I read this in college in a very bad class, and I was curious about NYC's new revival so it was time for a reread. Thank goodness! I only remembered what happens at the end, and not at all why.

This read was much more thought-provoking. And somehow, though it is key, I didn't recall the theme of Hedda's pregnancy at all. (It was a really bad class.) And that's not a spoiled revelation; though she only (barely) admits it...more
Vlad
Hedda Gabler, through the events of the play, is an exploration of the mental state of its title protagonist, a disillusioned 29 year-old woman who has decided to marry a boring academic she has no love for, Dr. Tesman. The daughter of a powerful general, she is cruel, demanding, and deeply unsatisfied with her life.

Inter-weaved into the plot is Eilert Lovborg, a rival academic to her husband who used to have a relationship with Hedda. He is a recovering alcoholic who has penned a brilliant man...more
Lavinia
Dark is probably not the adjective to describe it. I've seen it mentioned in one of the descriptions. Nor is Hedda evil. But the drama definitely holds a certain coldness to it (the same coldness one meets in Bergman's films, I'm tempted to say) and I cannot admit I understand Hedda entirely; she starts as a master of puppets, seems mischievous and always plotting but ends up alone and misunderstood. And makes you think she was alone and misunderstood all along.
I'm definitely looking forward to...more
Michelle
I was supposed to read this book a long time ago in undergrad. I finally got around to it. I'm sure it has some deep symbolic meaning attached to it, but here are my conclusions. Hedda was a horrible person. I didn't think I was supposed to feel sympathy for her until the end, but even then.
Bruce
Harold Bloom has called this play Shakespearean in scope and character, and I think he is correct. The central enigma is Hedda herself, a character of erotic self-destructiveness, fascinating and frightening simultaneously. Is she the embodiment of pure and inexplicable evil, as Iago would seem to be, or is she a victim of her time and culture, a woman of profound aspirations and ability trapped in a constricted and unimaginative marriage and role from which she tries desperately to escape? Her...more
Bronte
Since I had to read it for class I entered the play knowing what to look out for; however, even without a set goal in mind this is a very thought-provoking piece. Strange enough I could sympathize with Hedda although she was very unstable and manipulative. The lifestyle she married into seemed like a nightmare, having a husband who found the excitement in old documents and organizing. Of course, she shouldn't have married into that lifestyle if she knew she wouldn't be happy, but I digress.

A th...more
Beth
This is undoubtedly a play to be performed if one ever existed. Hedda is a brilliant female character - Lady Macbeth meets Betty Draper. She must be applauded as a female character who is not a hero or a villain, not a bitch or a crone, but a cruel, neurotic, charismatic presence. I was surprised by the almost feminism of Ibsen's play, how he manages to serve Hedda so well, with fantastic dry wit - the subtlety of the scene between her and Judge Brack would be spine-chilling on stage - and glori...more
Nathan
I don’t read plays often - I’m most inclined to read a play in anticipation of seeing a live performance of it. (I have numerous happy memories of sitting in line outside the Public Theatre in New York on a summer morning, reading a Shakespeare play while I waited for the free tickets to see an exquisite production at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park that night.) When I do read plays, I am struck by the way most of them require more proactivity than most literature. One must infer an unders...more
Mara Shaw
Ibsen captured the horror of the limited options available to women of propriety in 1890 with violence and virtuosity. It is irrelevant whether you like Hedda or not. She was not cut out to live within the straight jacket of society. None of the available options -- and Ibsen brilliantly explores them all (marriage, affair, manipulation of men) -- were a hell to her.

This play shook the world of "women's" lit long before women could vote. Originally performed only for women, it surprised the the...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
Brian Friel's version of Hedda Gabler throws new light on its two female archetypes - Hedda, the beautiful trapped and doomed heroine; and Thea, the less socially admired, yet much freer, new woman. Both women ultimately take their fate into their own hands, in very different ways.


Khaled Al-Bahnsawy
الصدفه بمفردها التى جمعتنى بقراءة هذه المسرحيه
الحقيقه اننى كنت قرأت عن تأثير هنريك ابسن على المسرح العالمى و وودت انا اشرع فى القراءه له ويدات فعلا بقراءه بيت الدميه لكن للاسف بعد وصولى للمنتصف نسيت المسرحيه فى المكتب
فقررت الشروع بقراءه احد اشهر مسرحياته الأخرى وهيا هيدا جابلر
الترجمه السيئه لحلمى مراد اضرت كثيرا باستمتاعى بها
اعجبنى كثيرا طريقه رسم شخصيه هيدا
(امرأة عقيم، مفترسة في عقمها، فكأنما هي جرادة في أحد المروج، تأكل كل ما تقع عليه من زرع نضير وتحل محله الخراب)
اقتبست هذا التعليق لانه م...more
Ben
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kassia
From the title of the play, it becomes obvious what the play is going to be about: a woman named Hedda Gabler. This woman has an extremely complicated personality. It is hard to guess what is going on in her head at any moment in time. Even her husband, George Tesman, hasn’t really figured out his own wife. The first step in understanding Hedda is to understand how she feels about her life.

From the beginning of the play, Hedda clearly expresses a sense of boredom in everything that she says and...more
Kristin
I read the 1972 translation (or "adaptation") by John Osborne, but also checked out the original 1890 English translation by Edmund Goose as a comparative reference. It didn't appear that Osborne really changed much except making the language simpler and clearer. I did take note of Goose's explanation of the differences in the use of the familiar versus formal "you," a shade that doesn't translate well (for his version, he used "thou" as a substitute, but today that just seems overtly stilted)....more
Daria
I liked this one more than A Doll's House - it was longer, expanded into a greater cast of characters, and was infinitely more complex. It was also more difficult to understand (not in terms of what happens, but in the ways that the characters relate to each other). I probably missed all the allegories/symbolism/stuff English papers are made of, but that's alright for me (even though I wouldn't mind discussing this play with a knowledgeable teacher or two).

Enter Hedda Gabler - bored, fallen, he...more
Devon
I think it's extremely interesting that a Norwegian man and a woman from Louisiana could have so much in common as far as societal observation goes. Because, seriously, I just read "The Awakening" and...yeah.

As far as that goes, though, I think I prefer Hedda Gabler. I just like Ibsen's writing better, I think (and I read two translations at once, which was a REAL trip.) Also, Ibsen's characters were kind of hilarious. I'm not saying that I didn't poke fun at everyone in "The Awakening" (because...more
Maisie Harrison
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Beeson
There are three great heroines of nineteenth century literature whose tragedy is that they are denied the dramatic and inspiring lives to which they feel entitled: Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina and Hedda Gabler.

All three are married to men who are certainly adequate from the point of view of ordinary people, but perhaps no more than that; and from the point of view of the life not ordinary, because it belongs on the noble heights of tragic aspiration, adequate is simply not enough.

Of the three, Hed...more
Laura
I love the heightened emotional valence of stage plays (the very thing, I suspect, that people who do not care for theatre take issue with). In order to reach the back of the room, you really can't afford small gestures. To be able to pen this without descending to melodrama or mockery takes some kind of genius. Ibsen is that genius. Take a look at this one moment. Newlywed George Tesman has just found out that the position he was certain to get in the academy is now threatened by the appearance...more
Meg
Sep 17, 2014 Meg rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women who enjoy exerting power over men
Since my first days at university, as one of the few women in a male-dominated program, I've enjoyed the power to control the actions of the men around me. While I certainly don't take it to the extremes that Hedda would like, I've not always been the kindest person, though I've hopefully mended my ways lately. In reading Hedda Gabler I was startled to recognize so much of myself in a piece of classic literature. I suppose this speaks to the timelessness of Ibsen's work.

However, I wasn't overwhe...more
Daniel
Hedda, she with husband that longs to write a great deal about the domestic industries of Brabant during the middle ages, she with husband that encompasses correctness and respectability beyond all question, after first firing General Gabler's pistols, after then answering "I know of no reason why I should be" to the observation "You are not really happy," after agreeing with the judgmental one who opined "The triangle ought, if possible, be spontaneously constructed," after once dwelling upon,...more
Mike Jensen
There was a time I would have given this story of an unhappy but manipulative shrew a lower rating for being so pointlessly unpleasant. I have now read widely enough in Ibsen to realize that he usually wrote about people learning to take responsibility for themselves and do what is right when that is the hardest thing to do. I now see this play as subverting that, since it is about a woman who takes responsibility for hurting others, destroying two of them (if you know the story, count carefully...more
Emily
I think I liked this one better than "A Doll's House": it is more developed and you get a better taste of the characters, so you can understand their twists and turns even if they're not explained. Even though I would've liked to read this after a more thorough study of the Norwegian society and its problems, I liked they way he portrays society and deals with its hypocrisy. Hedda may seem terrible, but she was also condemned to be because she couldn't choose. It really made me think. I believe...more
Isabel
This book is powerful and memorable. Hedda Gabler paints a portrait of one of the most disturbed people ever depicted in literature I've read. Ibsen does this very skillfully and yet not too caricaturistically. I found myself thinking about the story after I read the book and have a feeling I will be thinking about it for time to come. Ibsen succeeds in creating an unforgettable character. Though, I must admit, I don't completely understand Hedda as a character, she sounds so irrational and, rea...more
Helen Callaghan
Jul 11, 2012 Helen Callaghan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I'd never read any Ibsen before and was astonished by this - its psychological depth compared to its economy was amazing, even for drama. Hedda Gabler, the ferociously intelligent, dangerously cruel, yet ultimately pitiable protagonist defies easy categorisation.

I can't imagine why I've waited till now to read it - I saw that there was a new production of it on in London and thought, ooh, I should give that a go. It was another of those "to read" books that's been on the pile for years.

It's a...more
Matthew
Hedda Gabler reads like a more twisted version of A Doll's House. Once again, we have the frustrated wife married to an absurd husband and seeking personal freedom of a kind that was not easily available to women in Ibsen's age.

However, Hedda is a colder and more manipulative Nora Helmer. Also the inappropriate but essentially innocent relationship between Nora and Dr Rank is here replaced by a much more dangerous relationship between Hedda and Judge Brack.

The story is as follows. Hedda is newly...more
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Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major Norwegian playwright largely responsible for the rise of modern realistic drama. He is often referred to as the "father of modern drama." Ibsen is held to be the greatest of Norwegian authors and one of the most important playwrights of all time, celebrated as a national symbol by Norwegians.

His plays were considered scandalous to many of his era, when Victorian valu...more
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“It’s a release to know that in spite of everything a premeditated act of courage is still possible.” 20 likes
“It's a liberation to know that an act of spontaneous courage is yet possible in this world. An act that has something of unconditional beauty.” 14 likes
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