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Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, Acts I & II

The play Hedda Gabler is a great example of class differences, ways of thinking, and biases. Throughout the first half of the storyline, the main heroes give small hints that the main couple, Hedda and George, are too different to be together. The play manifests the way of thinking of a rich girl Hedda, who married only because of money and dies literally of boredom, confirming the stereotype that life of rich people is boring; the class warfare is also clearly represented in the dialogues of the primary characters.

The class disparities between Hedda Gabler and George Tesman become obvious from the first dialogue between his aunt Juliana Tesman and her servant Berta, in which Ms. Tesman says: “Think of the sort of life she was accustomed to in her father’s time. Don’t you remember how we used to see her riding down the road along with the General?” (Ibsen). Their dialogue leads to the conclusion that aunt Juliana is irritated by the wealth of her nephew’s wife and expects her to be a squanderer. Another important fact is that George bought a house to please Hedda, but it was so expensive for him that he took a mortgage.

More in the Text…

The text reveals more and more small details that stress the financial and social disparity of the main heroes: Hedda sees a new bonnet of aunt Julia but thinks that it is old and belongs to the servant, Mrs. Elvsted stresses that her and Hedda’s circles drifted apart from each other and Hedda does not remember her name as if confirming this theory, and George Tesman is horrified that his appointment is farther than he thinks and he is not able to keep his luxurious wife.

After hearing bad news about her husband’s appointment, Hedda revealed her plan: she married Tesman only because she though he would become a minister. Hedda tells judge Brack that she is bored to death and the end of the story serves as a proof that Hedda couldn’t live like everyone else with or without money.


All in all, family life of two financially unequal people presents class disparity as a problem for relations. Hedda and her husband have a different perception of how their life should look like; she values money more than anything else but is bored even having them, confirming the stereotype about rich people’s boring life.

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