by Henrik Ibsen
Hedda Gabler Theme of Respect and Reputation
In Hedda Gabler, playing by society’s rules is often more important than human life. Set in the late 1800s, the characters are constrained by Victorian values, particularly when it comes to sex. Because so many sexual topics are taboo, many of the conversations and machinations can be understood only in subtext and innuendos. The threat of public scandal hangs constantly over the characters’ heads, threatening to ruin social status, and therefore lives. At the same time, some characters find pleasure in rebelling, albeit it secretly.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
- What are some of the rules that govern Hedda in this play? Which of them is the most restrictive? Destructive?
- Why is it that Hedda is so afraid of scandal? She seems to flaunt her disregard for Victorian values, at least as far as femininity goes – so why does this matter so much to her?
- After he tells Mrs. Elvsted off, Eilert claims that he no longer has any interest for his former renegade lifestyle, as Thea has killed that part of him. Does he resent her for this, or is he grateful for the reformation?
Chew on This
George doesn’t really love Hedda; she’s just a trophy wife.