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In Act III, Hedda's destructiveness continues and her attempts to refashion Lövborg fail as his behavior is not noble but debased. Lövborg does not return that night to escort Mrs. Elvsted home. Tesman returns early next morning with the manuscript that Lövborg lost because he was drunk. He acknowledges that it is the most remarkable book that has ever been written and has every intention of returning it but Hedda prevents him from doing so and he goes rushing to his dying Aunt Rina's bedside. Brack enters and gives her the sordid details of if Lövborg's escapades the previous night. He had gone to Mademoiselle Diana's soiree and accused her of robbing the manuscript. There was a scuffle and Lövborg was arrested.
Lövborg is driven to despair by the loss of his manuscript and tells Mrs. Elvsted to return to her husband for "Henceforward I shall do no work." He lies to her about his manuscript and tells her that he tore it. Mrs. Elvsted accuses him of killing their "child." When left alone, he confesses to Hedda that he has brought "the child" to a house of ill fame and lost it there. Hedda wants to attempt once more to influence Lövborg as Mrs. Elvsted has. Instead of returning his manuscript, she provides him with a pistol and tells him to "do it beautifully." She wants his suicide to remain a romantic memory for her as well as be a vicarious means for her to feel like she has acted in a noble way. After he has left, Hedda burns the manuscript in a fit of jealousy because it has been the "child" of the supposedly reformed Lövborg and the trivial mouse- like Mrs. Elvsted.
Mrs. Elvsted realizes that she has the notes with her and she and Tesman sit together to put the notes in some semblance of order. Hedda finds out from Brack that Lövborg's death was neither an act of courage nor was it beautiful for he was shot in the bowels in Mademoiselle Diana's boudoir. He also tells her that the pistol could be traced to her. Brack wants to enter into a liaison with Hedda now that he has power over her. He plays on her deep- seated fears of scandal and warns her that she might be implicated in Lövborg's death. Hedda feels that everything she touches turns "ludicrous and mean." Not wanting to submit to Brack and disgusted by Lövborg's ignoble death, she shoots herself in the temple, at last summoning the courage to act as an agent of her life.
The ending of the play is shocking as it does not allow the other characters to respond to her death except to reveal their shock. One does not think that with her death Hedda has received her just deserts, or that she is a victim. However, from Brack's final announcement that "One doesn't do that kind of thing," the audience can see that Hedda Gabler was a misunderstood character and an anomaly within a society that attempted to define what she could and could not do.