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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The scene of the action is in Dr. Tesman's villa in the West End of Christiania (Oslo) in Norway. The entire action of Hedda Gabler takes place within a single setting, consisting of a drawing room and an inner room that can be seen through a doorway at the back.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Hedda Gabler - General Gabler's daughter. She is tied to societal norms and dares not risk a fight with society and do something as unconventional as marrying a dissipated rake like Lövborg, even though she is fascinated by him. Instead she marries Tesman, who represents stolidity and respectability. A life of conformity without faith leads her to boredom and emotional sterility. She is cruel and mean to Aunt Julia and Mrs. Elvsted and contracts an underhanded alliance with Brack. When Lövborg comes back into her life she tries to liberate him but fails, and in a fit of jealousy, she burns his manuscripts. She also gives him one of her pistols to commit suicide, begging him to "do it beautifully." However, when she comes to know that he did not shoot himself in the temple, but was killed in a scuffle and shot in the bowels she is disillusioned. Finding that she is completely in Brack's power and fearing a scandal, she finally has the courage to shoot herself in the temple.
George Tesman - Hedda's husband. He is a loquacious pedant, unimaginative and unoriginal. He has been conferred a doctorate and is known as Dr. Tesman. He intends to write a book called "The Domestic Industries of Brabant during the Middle Ages." So engrossed is he in his research that he is unaware of Hedda's emotional and psychological needs. However, when Lövborg's manuscript is destroyed he sets about reconstructing his manuscript from his notes and eventually fulfills Lövborg's promise of greatness.
Miss Juliana Tesman - Tesman's aunt, also known as Aunt Julia. She is a sixty-five-year-old spinster who has devoted her life to Tesman, her invalid sister Rina and other invalids. She puts up with Hedda's insults so long as she can give her news of her pregnancy and thus perpetuate the Tesman name.
Mrs. Thea Elvsted - Hedda's schoolmate; she marries the District Magistrate Elvsted, but is unhappy. Eilert Lövborg is hired as a tutor to her stepchildren. She reforms him and also helps him write his book and follows him to Christiania to keep an eye on him thus daring to break all social conventions. When he tells her that he has torn the manuscript, she accuses him of killing their "child." After his death, she begins to collaborate with Tesman to reconstruct his book from the notes she has so providentially saved.
Judge Brack - a gentleman who belongs to Hedda's old set. After she is married he finagles himself into her life by setting up a triangular friendship. He recognizes the pistol that killed Lövberg is hers and proceeds to blackmail her, knowing Hedda's deep- seated fear of scandal. He is satisfied that she is completely within his power but does not realize that she has the courage to take her own life.
Eilert Lövborg - a dissipated Bohemian, who has a spark of genius in him but a penchant towards drinking and other immoral behavior. He had once fallen in love with Hedda, but she drove him away with her father's pistols. After being dismissed from the University, he is hired as a tutor to District Magistrate Elvsted's children. Here, he meets their stepmother Thea Elvsted who influences him enough to reform him. She even writes his book, which he dictates to her. Hedda has always romanticized him and thinks of him as a man with "vine-leaves in his hair." He renounces life after losing his manuscript.