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Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler


by Henrik Ibsen

Analysis: Steaminess Rating

Exactly how steamy is this story?


Rated PG-13 for adult themes and the most hidden bawdy banter we’ve ever witnessed. After a quick read through of Hedda Gabler, you might realize that you’ve never once seen the words "baby," "pregnant," "sex," "bed," or "affair." That’s hard to believe since the play is about a pregnant woman, a man she almost had an affair with, and a man currently trying to sleep with her. Read it a few more times and you’ll realize there’s excitement to be found beneath the Victorian tact. So here you go:

A Guide To Secret Sex Talk in Hedda Gabler (Or, Judge Brack Talks A Lot About Sex )

  1. Any one of the many references to Hedda "filling out," or having a "new responsibility," or Berta having another name to call George, or Hedda’s truncated "I’m going to—" confession to George are baby talk. These all refer to Hedda’s pregnancy.
  2. Hedda says that she and Eilert’s "closeness […] threatened to grow more serious." Translation: he wanted to have sex with her, and she refused.
  3. Mademoiselle Diana is "a red-headed singer." Translation: prostitute.
  4. Brack wants to have a "triangular" "friendship" with Hedda and George. Translation: he wants to sleep with Hedda.
  5. Brack wants to be the "only cock in the walk" = he wants to be the only man that Hedda is sleeping with outside of her marriage.
  6. That whole discussion of the train is a bit odd. Basically, Brack is saying Hedda should jump off the marriage train into the arms of a waiting stranger – him. Hedda is afraid that people will look at her legs if she jumps, meaning the scandal will be public and that’s not OK. Brack then says he’ll come aboard the train, which means he’ll take the initiative by coming to her, and no one will ever be the wiser.
  7. Did you see that weird discussion about Hedda’s honeymoon, when the Judge keeps saying "morning, noon and night," and Hedda keeps correcting him by saying "everlastingly?" They’re talking about the time that Hedda spends with her husband. She’s offended by the Judge referring to the night, because it implies that she’s having sex with her husband on their honeymoon. It’s not that the sex isn’t allowed – it’s that talking about the sex (or anything six degrees from it) isn’t acceptable.
  8. Towards the end of the play, Brack gets Hedda in his power and promises not to "abuse [his] position." Translation: "I’m going to have lots of sex with you, Hedda, and you’re going to have to pretend to enjoy it."

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