Hedda Gabler

Henrik Ibsen, translated by Kenneth McLeish
Book Item Icon $12.95
PDF ePlay Item Icon
Enter total users


A selfish, cynical woman bored by her marriage to the scholar Jorgen Tesman, Hedda Gabler's father's pair of pistols provide intermittent diversion, as do the attentions of the ne'er-do-well Judge Brack. When Thea Elvestad, a longtime acquaintance of Hedda's, reveals that she has left her husband for the writer Ejlert Lovborg, who once pursued Hedda, the latter becomes vengeful. Learning that Ejlert has forsworn liquor, Hedda first steers him to a rowdy gathering at Brack's and subsequently burns the reputedly brilliant manuscript that he loses there while drunk. Witnessing his desperation, she sends him one of the pistols, and he shoots himself. Brack deduces Hedda's complicity and demands that she become his mistress in exchange for his silence about the matter. Instead, she ends her ennui with the remaining pistol. The work is remarkable for its nonjudgmental depiction of an immoral, destructive character, one of the most vividly realized women in dramatic literature.

Production Info

Cast: 7 total (4 female, 3 male)
Full Length Drama (about 160 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Period Costumes
Categories: , Tag:

Press Quotes

“… this profound play, in which Hedda’s contradictory desires both compel her and are concealed from her, foreshadows Freud’s notion of the unconscious … ‘Our whole being is nothing but a fight against the dark forces within ourselves,’ Ibsen said. He, like Freud, was an archeologist of the modern psyche, one of those visionaries, as Freud observed, whose findings ‘troubled the sleep of the world’ … As someone who is always comparing herself with others, Hedda puts great store in appearances and in the show of propriety — she fears scandal. At the same time, she has a murderous, self-destructive heart that confounds her … For Hedda, everything that’s bright, joyful, life-giving, or creative is a target. In fact, the issue of creation lies at the heart of her barren landscape. At its most literal level, the plot turns on whether Hedda is pregnant or not. Throughout the play, Ibsen keeps the answer tantalizingly ambiguous. The other characters frequently raise the question; she just as frequently cuts those questions dead … She is not brave; she is reckless, a signal of her resignation. Her life is a living death, so she has nothing to lose … Hedda’s own suicide, when it comes, is not an act of contrition but an act of will, the only gesture of freedom left to her. It is intended as a perverse transcendence, a form of negative creation.” —John Lahr, The New Yorker

About the Author


  • Henrik Ibsen

    Henrik Ibsen (1828 – 1906) was a Norwegian dramatist and is considered the father of the modem drama. He first won worldwide attention with A DOLL'S HOUSE (1879). His next play, GHOSTS, dealt openly with the topic of venereal disease and aroused great opposition. He replied to his critics by writing AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE (1881), where he showed that an individual may be right while society is wrong. His other plays include PEER GYNT (1867), THE WILD DUCK (1884), ROSMERSHOLM (1886), THE LADY FROM THE SEA (1888), HEDDA GABLER (1890), THE MASTER BUILDER (1892), LITTLE EYOLF (1894), JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN (1896), and WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN (1899).

  • Kenneth McLeish

    Kenneth McLeish (1940 – 1997) studied Classics and Music at Worcester College, Oxford. After starting as a schoolteacher, he became a full-time translator, author, and dramatist, and in time the most widely respected and prolific translator of drama in Britain. His output included all 47 of the surviving classical Greek plays, most of Ibsen and Feydeau, as well as individual plays by Plautus, Molière, Jarry, Strindberg, Horvath, and Labiche. His original plays and translations have been widely performed, most notably by England's National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher Nick Hern Books
Publication Date 9/1/1996
Pages 128
ISBN 9781854591845

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Hedda Gabler is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC