Skip over navigation

Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen

Act 4, Part 2 of 2

Act 4, Part 1 of 2

Analysis

Summary

Brack is surprised to learn that Ejlert has destroyed his manuscript. Mrs. Elvsted announces that she has some notes from the book left over. Tesman* and Mrs. Elvsted decide to try to reconstruct the book, and they immediately sit down at the writing table in an inner room to sort through the notes. Brack and Hedda begin to talk. Hedda goes on and on about the dignity of Ejlert's suicide, until Brack interrupts her. He reveals that he did not shoot himself in his lodgings but was fatally wounded by the accidental firing of a pistol that was in his breast pocket. To make matters worse, at the moment he died, he was in Mademoiselle Diana's bedroom, still looking for his lost manuscript, and he was shot not in the chest but in the stomach. Hedda is disgusted.

At this moment, Tesman and Mrs. Elvsted move back into the main room, complaining of the bad lighting in the inner room. Hedda clears off the writing desk for them, removing a certain package to the inner room. Then, she and Brack begin to discuss Ejlert's suicide further, in low voices. Brack tells Hedda that the police will trace the pistol and that she may have to appear in court, and he knows how much she hates scandal. Hedda is horrified by the thought of being dependent upon Brack to keep the secret of the pistol's origin. Hedda goes to see how Tesman and Mrs. Elvsted are getting along. She says that she is sure that Mrs. Elvsted will one day inspire Tesman as she did Ejlert. She then goes out to lie down and rest. Wild piano playing is heard from inside. It quiets, then a pistol goes off. Everyone rushes in. Hedda has shot herself.

Commentary

Tesman's desire to dedicate his life to reconstructing Ejlert's manuscript shows the fickleness and smallness of his character. A few moments earlier, he had been elated that Hedda would destroy the manuscript, but now he is horrified that Ejlert is dead, and he is eager to restore the manuscript. It seems that he always tries to act appropriately, whatever the situation, regardless of over-arching principle. Also, it is possible that he is eager to work with Mrs. Elvsted. Earlier, in Act 1, Hedda hints that Mrs. Elvsted may have been involved with Tesman at some earlier date. At any rate, when Tesman plans for he and Mrs. Elvsted to meet daily at his Aunt's to work, one cannot help but imagine an affair, given that Mrs. Elvsted also met her current husband by coming to work for him. Hedda hints at this possibility when she says she is sure Mrs. Elvsted will inspire Tesman.

When Hedda learns of the ugliness of Ejlert's death, she is disgusted for the second time in Act 4—the first time being when she was repulsed by Tesman's joy. She commits suicide in the belief that there is no escape from a disappointing life. (An additional interpretation would be that she wants to demonstrate what a beautiful death is, assuming she has shot herself in the head.) The events of the act have been hinted at throughout the play, beginning with the end of Act 1 when Hedda goes to play with her pistols out of boredom; once again, she has turned to her pistols to alleviate her world-weariness and sense of tedium.

More Help

Previous Next
Tesman and Lovberg

by justlisten234, August 28, 2012

Hey guys! I wanted to add that I think Tesman doesn't necessarily want to destroy Lovberg's manuscript in some capacity, or even is reluctant to give it back. I feel like while Tesman may harbor some jealousy toward Lovberg's success, he doesn't resent Lovberg enough to even want to do anything bad to the manuscript to harm Lovberg. I think Tesman genuinely wanted to give the manuscript back to Lovberg after the party, and he was genuinely horrified that Hedda didn't give the manuscript back to Lovberg--and he said it might have ended up bei... Read more

1 Comments

64 out of 78 people found this helpful

Follow Us