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MonkeyNotes-Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
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Act IV

Summary

Later in the evening, Aunt Julia comes to the house to bring tidings of Aunt Rina's death "in the house of life." She tells Hedda that she has decided to keep find some poor invalid who needs nursing to keep her occupied. Tesman returns and although quite affected by the death of his aunt, he is more concerned about Lövborg. Mrs. Elvsted has told him about Lövborg's visit in the morning and the story of ripping his manuscript to pieces. He did not tell her that he had found it and gave it to Hedda for "safekeeping." Now he asks Hedda to give it to him so that he can return it and is quite taken aback when she informs him that she destroyed it. She tells him that she did so because he was envious of Lövborg and this was her way of showing her love. She also announces that she is with child.

Tesman, overjoyed by the news, agrees to enter into the conspiracy and keep silent about the manuscript. Mrs. Elvsted arrives with the news that the most incredible rumors are afloat regarding Lövborg. Brack too arrives at this moment and announces that Lövborg is in the hospital and on the verge of death. Mrs. Elvsted is frantic with anxiety and wants to see him immediately but Brack dissuades her from doing so. He tells them that he had shot himself in the breast that afternoon and that he was dying. Much to everyone's surprise, Hedda maintains that there is beauty in his act. Mrs. Elvsted and Tesman think that he shot himself in despair due to the manuscript. Tesman regrets Lövborg's act because the manuscript would have immortalized his name. Mrs. Elvsted searches her coat pockets and realizes that she has all his notes with her from the book. Tesman becomes excited and says that they shall piece the book together again. Amost immediately, the two of them sit down to work on this monumental task.


Meanwhile, Hedda is left alone with Brack and continues to languish in the image of Lövborg's death, which to her was noble and romantic. However, Brack discloses the true story behind the one he has fabricated. He had only idealized the facts a little for Mrs. Elvsted's sake but in fact Lövborg was already dead, shot in the bowels in Mlle. Diana's boudoir with Hedda's pistol. Hedda is dismayed by the news of how ignominiously Lövborg died. She despairs at her own hand in his death, commenting that everything she touches is "ludicrous and mean." Brack does not respond instead he suggest that to prevent a scandal, she must maintain that Lövborg had stolen the pistol when he visited her earlier in the day. The police would not be able to track down the pistol to her as long as he does not say anything. If the owner is traced then Hedda would be dragged to court. Brack again assures her that there would be no such danger as long as he keeps quiet. Hedda realizes that she is in his power now, that he is "the only cock in the basket." She tells him that she will never submit to him even as Brack assures her that "people generally get used to the inevitable."

Hedda goes up to Mrs. Elvsted and fingers her beautiful hair, saying that she is sitting with her husband as she once did with Eilert. Tesman remarks that Thea is proving to be an inspiration. The two are so engrossed in their work that Tesman forgets his precious Hedda. They plan on meeting at Aunt Julia's where Thea will rent a room. When Hedda plaintively asks what she will do, Tesman asks Brack to keep her company and Brack is only too happy and willing to do so.

They also want to use her writing table and as Hedda clears it for them, she removes the pistol and puts it on the piano in the inner room. When Hedda realizes that she is fully in Brack's power and that she has even been dislodged by Thea as Tesman's source of interest, she goes to the back room, draws the curtain and plays a popular dance piece on the piano. The music stops and a shot rings out offstage. Tesman, Brack, and Thea discover Hedda, lifeless on the couch, shot in the temple.

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