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MonkeyNotes-Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
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ACT SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

Act I

Summary

As the play opens, George and Hedda Tesman have just returned from their six month honeymoon the night before and Tesman's Aunt Juliana, an unmarried lady of sixty-five, calls on them the following morning. Berte, Tesman's maid, greets her and admits that she is afraid she will not get on with her new mistress since she has been working for Aunt Julia and her sister Miss Rina for so long. The latter is an invalid. The room where they talk is well- furnished and full of flowers announcing the young couple's homecoming.

At this point, Tesman enters, greeting his aunt warmly. During the course of their conversation, George declares that he is now Dr. Tesman and has acquired his Ph.D. He also reveals that he has spent much of his honeymoon researching libraries and archives in Europe for his new book, "The Domestic Industries of Brabant during the Middle Ages." His aunt meanwhile continues to ask after Hedda and their holiday. She declares her surprise that the beautiful Hedda, General Gabler's daughter, should marry her nephew and hints at whether or not Hedda is pregnant, "Have you nothing - nothing special to tell me?" Tesman misunderstands her and begins to tell her that he expects to become a professor shortly and that the two empty rooms in the house are meant to be for his increasing library. Aunt Julia presents the newly wed couple with some furniture for the house because she knows that Tesman must have found the honeymoon expensive. Tesman is lucky to have gotten such a wonderful villa, and his friend Judge Brack has secured the most favorable terms for him. At the news of Tesman's upcoming university appointment, Aunt Julia reveals that Tesman's rival Eilert Lövborg has published a new book. Tesman too is going to publish a new book only his does not appear as interesting as Lövborg's.


At the mention of Lövborg, Hedda makes her appearance. She is statuesque and lovely to look at yet she is cold and distant with Aunt Julia. When Aunt Julia gives Tesman his old morning shoes and slippers, which Aunt Rina has embroidered for him, Hedda is not touched. She complains that Berte has left a bonnet on the chair when in fact it is Aunt Julia's. When she realizes that she has committed a faux pas, she does not apologize and George attempts to improve the situation by praising Aunt Julia's hat. George than attempts to galvanize them both by making a comment on Hedda's fuller appearance. Aunt Julia is delighted that she may be pregnant but Hedda can only insist that she has not changed a bit. Finally, Aunt Julia leaves with the promise to come by and visit daily.

After she leaves, George asks Hedda to use the informal "du" with Aunt Julia. She says that she will try and call her "Aunt" and that he must be satisfied with that. George is horrified when she wants to buy a new piano instead of exchanging a new one with her old.

At that moment Mrs. Thea Elvsted is announced. She is District Magistrate Elvsted's wife and had once been a schoolmate of Hedda's. She also had dated George at one time. Having been a governess to Elvsted's children, she later married him. She comes in and explains her sitaution. Eilert Lövborg came as a tutor to her stepchildren after he was forced to resign from the university because of his excessive drinking. Mrs. Elvsted claims that his conduct has been irreproachable for the past two years and that he has written and published a book recently dealing with the march of civilization that was very successful. However, a week ago he left to come to town and has not been back since. She is afraid that with money in his pockets he will revert to his old ways. She requests Tesman to write and invite him to his place so that he will not fall in the wrong company. Tesman willingly sits down to write Lövborg, asking him to his house that evening. In the meantime, while they are alone, Thea Elvsted tells Hedda that she is unhappy in her marriage and is in love with Lövborg. In fact, she plans to run away with him though Lövborg is unaware of it. She also explains how she has helped him write this new book. She also knows that the shadow of another woman has come between them. It is a woman who had threatened to shoot him with a pistol when they parted. She fears it may be a singer in town who is somewhat disreputable.

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