Study Guide

Hedda Gabler Manipulation

By Henrik Ibsen


Hedda is famous as a cold-hearted, manipulative woman years ahead of her time. In this play, her ability to influence others has a lot to do with her sexuality and good looks. Machinations become a sort of game, a way of escaping the boredom of Victorian-era Norway. Because women can’t seek power through careers or scholarship, Hedda seeks it through controlling others.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Hedda declares to Thea that she has never had power over anyone: is this true? What prompts her to make such a statement?
  2. Who has more power over Eilert Løvborg – Thea or Hedda – and why?
  3. When the play begins, who is in the power seat in the relationship between Hedda and the Judge? What about when he tries to blackmail her? What about when Hedda commits suicide? How do the dynamics of their relationship shift over the course of the play?
  4. Eilert asks Hedda: "Ah, what power was it in you, Hedda, that made me tell you such things?" Good question.

Chew on This

Hedda is a more powerful, manipulative character than Judge Brack.

Judge Brack is a more powerful, manipulative character than Hedda.