"Ibsen's Hedda Gabbler: A Seeker of Beauty"
In his 1890 play, Hedda Gabbler, Henrik Ibsen portrays Gabbler, the central character, as a doomed seeker of beauty. Her life is rooted in unsustainable illusion and deceptions. Presented as a misguided heroine, Gabbler is revealed to be a woman whose deep frustrations and thwarted ambition eventually leads to the play's catastrophic conclusion. By the dramatic ending, Hedda Gabbler and Eilert Lovborg have both died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Ibsen represents these deaths as the consequence of their indiscriminate pursuit of beauty. Gabbler and Lovborg are depicted as individuals unable to accept life's routine pettiness and circumstantial monotony. Instead, they choose to embrace death as an alternative means of obtaining the peace denied in their daily lives. Death is substituted for life and is dangerously misvalued as what ultimately brings beauty. Moments before her own death, Gabbler expresses her reverential admiration for Lovborg's suicide when she tells Judge Brack:
It gives me a sense of freedom to know that a deed of deliberate courage is still possible in the world, -- a deed of spontaneous beauty. (Ibsen 67)
Gabbler's diminished view of life leads her to exaggerate the importance of beauty. Beauty, understood as what remains untouched by the mundane or ugly, is what must be pursued without consideration of cost. Ibsen showcases Gabbler's death as dramatic evidence for how delusion operates with magnetizing force. Gabbler dies still dedicated to the belief that life should only be lived severed from the experience of any personal pain.
Ibsen depicts Gabbler as drawn to choosing death over life due to her own inner hollowness. She is radically uncertain of her own identity. Throughout the drama's five acts, Gabbler's personality appears most fixed in those moments when she is consciously striving to manipulate others. Gabbler is shown to be care...