by Henrik Ibsen
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
This symbol is a little less complicated. The pistols once belonged to Hedda’s father, so they serve as a constant reminder that she is Hedda Gabler still and not Hedda Tesman (see "What’s Up With the Title?"). In the Victorian age, the guns were a decidedly masculine object, par for the course since Hedda shies away from traditional feminine interests. There’s also the cool exterior and fiery interior of a gun, a metaphor for Hedda herself. It’s interesting that the guns are dangerous to everyone else but that Hedda sees them as toys; this is very similar to the way that her lethal manipulations are likely devised solely for her own amusement. Also notice that Hedda keeps her guns in the writing desk. Check out "Character Role Identification" for a discussion of the foil between Hedda and Mrs. Elvsted. We argue that Thea is all about creative construction while Hedda is about violent destruction. This point is really driven home when we see that Hedda uses her writing desk not for writing (not for creation that is) but for keeping her guns (for destruction). Lastly, if you buy into Freudian theories, keep in mind that the guns are a phallic symbol, and that Hedda’s obsession with them may just be all about her wanting to be a man.