Hedda Gabler as a Psychological Play | Psychological Problems of Hedda
“Hedda Gabler” has been written with psychological perspectives due to the reason it is termed as a “Psychological Play”. Henrik Ibsen presents psyche not only of s specific character but each and every character of the play in detail. However, Hedda’s character is prominent in this regard. She is in possession of some inner psychological problems, which lead her towards destruction. In addition to having the title of protagonist of play, “Hedda Gabler” is the most confused and frustrated character of the play. She is living with those, who are entirely different from her in nature and living lifestyle. She is the daughter of a general, therefore, wants to fulfill every desire of her own but fears scandals. It is not wrong to say that she is mentally sick. She wants to influence every mind of society. Meaning thereby that she wants to control others. She is not a conventional woman, therefore, does not know the art of adjustments.
It has already been mentioned that Henrik Ibsen discusses individual psychological problems in “Hedda Gabler”, therefore, the play is regarded as one of the best psychological plays of that era. If we talk about Hedda, she was living a happy life before her marriage. Afterwards, drift in her behavior as well as life can be witnessed. From very starting of the play, we feel that she is not happy with her marriage nor with her husband. Her husband’s nature is dull and unromantic. Perhaps, he is the main reason behind her mental illness and sickness. Hedda seems the unhappiest woman on earth. Subsequently, she can be seen continuing her previous affair with Loevborg but his husband is to be blamed for it. Nevertheless, whatever may be the reason, we have to believe that there are some psychological problems in Hedda Gabler and the play is all about these problems.
In order to analyze “Hedda Gabler as a psychological play, it is is necessary to know the reasons behind mental illness of main protagonist. We are talking about Hedda. Up-till now we have realized that she is fighting with her inner problems but what are these problems, let’s talk.
First problem of Hedda is that she fears from scandals. She knows that she has a good respect in society, which may be ruined by a single unethical action. Instead of living her own life, she cares more about her respect in society. Before taking a decision, she think about its consequences; especially “What people will say”. She was in love with Loevborg but could not marry him because she wanted to maintain her respect in the vicinity. She thinks more about people and less about herself. In concise words, she thinks more and acts less. She wants to maintain her fame. She always remains disturbed. It is, therefore, she commits suicide. She cannot live life of disgust. She knows that people will defame him after knowing that Hedda is responsible for Loevborg’s death. She cannot answer people. Her over-thinking is responsible for her annihilation. Her mind does not let her live a moment of peace. There is no denying the fact that fear has overpowered her completely. Thus, fear of scandals is her greatest enemy.
Hedda’s control can be witnessed on every major character of the play. George Tesman is her husband but we see influence of Hedda on him. He is guided by Hedda in every fatal decision. Hedda always finds an opportunity to control him. It is also a major psychological problem of Hedda that she wants to gain more and more power while influencing other persons. She thinks that after taking control of every person, she may fulfill her desires. Thus, she starts affair with Loevborg in order to control him. Hedda asks him to do something and he does it in less than a minute without thinking about its consequences. She does not love Loevborg; instead controls him. She wants to fill his mind with her own wishes in order to fulfill them. Similarly, she wants control on Thea Elvsted. She uses her after getting control of her mind. She has no love for anyone not even for her lover or for her husband. She is hungry for power, therefore, wants more and more influence. It is also a psychological problem of Hedda which leads her towards destruction.
Gaining control of minds is not only the problem of Hedda. She first influences a person and subsequently destroys him. When she finds that Loevborg is under his control, she suggests him a beautiful death. She tries to destroy him. She does the same not only with Loevborg but also with her husband. She knows that she has influence on her husband, therefore, she disrespects him. She also insults Mrs. Tesman. It is also major psychic problem in her character that she first influences a person and then she tries her best to completely devastate him.
Hedda does not give up on her desires, therefore, she wants to fulfill them at every cost. It is also another psychological problem of her character. She tries to live life through Loevborg. She does not consider difference between single life and married life. Hence, even after marriage in a middle class family, she wants the luxuries of life at every cost. Thus, it is also another psychological problem of Hedda Gabler.
However, there is something, which can be said in favour of Hedda. She is victim of circumstances. In order to maintain respect of Gabler family, she denies the proposal of Loevborg and marries Tesman. She belongs to an elite class family; her life, before marriage, was peaceful; she had enjoyed every comfort of life. Thus, she is not perfect for middle class Tesman family. She cannot fit in it. She is not a traditional woman. She has not learnt the word tradition in her whole life. Thus, society is also responsible for her psychological problems. It is not true to say that she is a coward woman because she fears from scandals. She does it in order to maintain her respect in the society.
Crux of the above discussion is that Hedda is a confused character. She is mentally disturbed. Henrik Ibsen has shown the relationship between individual and society through mental problems of Hedda Gabler. Apparently, Hedda seems good to Tesman and Judge Brack but they cannot find her inner problems. Mentally, she is living a miserable life. Every moment she thinks to commit suicide. Her psyche does not allow her to live in this male dominated society. She always thinks that she is in a prison, therefore, she wants liberation. At last but not the least, although there are some psychological problems in Hedda yet she alone is not responsible for them; there is also a part of society in her mental sickness.