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In the play Hedda Gabler, Ibsen creates a triangular relationship among the characters that are in the play. The purpose of such a strategy was to clearly pinpoint the drama that surrounds Hedda and what eventually happens to her at the end of the play. These triangles are used in a very subtle manner to present a buildup in the play. Each triangle involves Hedda and how she is able or unable to manipulate the other characters that are involved. The triangles also serve the purpose to show how each relationship affects Hedda and how she goes about gaining control over each character that is very much oblivious of the fact that Hedda wants to have power and she will be the one to determine who lives and who dies.
The first triangular relationship presented is between Tesman, Hedda and Loevborg. Hedda is currently married to Tesman, however her former lover Loevborg is back and he is with Thea. Loevborg longs to be with Hedda but she is adamant about being with him. Hedda married Tesman because she felt she was getting old, so because he was intellectually inclined, she accepted his proposal and got married. Hedda wanted to defy society's concepts of being a wife, mother and the traditional woman as a whole. She wanted to be in control and so the triangular relationship was formed between her and the other characters in the play. These triangular relationships would then unfold the drama in the play and gradually a breakdown of hedda's control would be evident. Hedda did not care much about anyone and she was very much into her own self. Hedda wanted to control everyone and was willing to do so at any cost including taking her very own life.
Tesman is a gentleman who is more or less interested in his work and pays little attention to what is going on in Hedda's world. Ibsen also uses these triangular relationships to show how Hedda manipulates the characters that surround her in the play. Ibsen presents Hedda as the general's daughter who sees herself as being in control of what happens to her and everyone else. In my opinion, the use of the triangular relationships created helps to show how Hedda is in charge of each person's destiny. In the first 'triangle', Hedda is in complete control of Loevborg and he seems to be oblivious of that fact. In act III, Hedda convinces Loevborg to just "do it beautifully". Her only advice to the man who is obviously in despair was to commit suicide. Her conclusion was that once she did not get Loevborg, then Thea who is her rival must not have him either. This is where Hedda had gained her control over him. Hedda had this subtle way of getting into the emotions of each of the characters except for Judge Brack.
The second triangle created involved Hedda, Tesman and Brack. For Brack, Tesman was just another person in Hedda's life. He was well aware that Hedda was not too inclined with Tesman and he wanted to seize the opportunity at every given chance to be with Hedda. Hedda also wanted a third person in the relationship. In act II, Hedda did comment and say "Yes, I often longed for a third person while I was away. Oh, those hours we spent alone in railway compartments." Brack was very much happy with what Hedda wished for and he wanted to be that third person. Brack can be viewed as an inquisitive person who also wants control and is willing to make threats in order to get what he wants. The relationship between Tesman and Brack is one of respect. Brack is very much comfortable with the fact that Tesman is not the type of man to be watching his wife, but rather he is the laid back type who is more concerned with his profession. Tesman is somewhat of a dormant character that is oblivious of the power that Hedda has. He is very much aware that Hedda is different but he isn't the type to express concern for her. He has accepted her even when she has her pistols and he is well aware that she wants to be an independent woman. He does not pressure her and thus their relationship is platonic. Tesman can be compared to the nerd in school who would do anything to gain the love and affection of the prettiest girl in school. This was very similar to what Tesman did to Hedda. He was just the fortunate gentleman to have the hands of Hedda Gabler. This triangle relationship is important because Brack is seen as the one who has the upper hand. Tesman is unable to fulfill all the duties of a husband so Hedda longs for a third person. Brack is equally important because he somewhat occupies Hedda's time who just for the sake of another person to talk with is interested in Brack, however Brack sees Hedda as much more than a friend but rather he wishes so have her as his lover and to have complete power over her.
The third triangle relationship revolves around Hedda, Brack and Loevborg. Brack senses that Hedda wishes for Loevborg to be involved with them. However, Brack is unwilling to have him mingle in his 'affair' with Hedda so he threatens her. Hedda begins to realize that Brack is fully aware that she was responsible for the death of Loevborg. The judge knew that the pistol used belonged to Hedda. He was however not prepared to scandal Hedda's character if she agreed to be with him. Brack confesses that he wants to be the "cock of the walk." He expresses that he wants to be the one who determines who should be in the triangle and who should not be in. Hedda obviously realizes that this man is also thirsty for control and ultimately power over her and the others. Brack goes on to comment that he is not prepared to defend the Tesmans if Loevborg is allowed in the circle of trust between Hedda and Himself. Hedda immediately senses danger because she is about to lose her grip of control over the others once the scandal is out in the society. Hedda is quite frankly not prepared to have anyone have control over her, much less the Judge. This triangle relationship is very important in the play because it sets the stage for the ultimate shock to occur later in the play. The deception and cunningness portrayed by the characters present the darker sides of the characters as they battle for complete power. This particular triangle gives the crippling reality that Hedda must deal with as she is between the decisions of being with Brack who quite frankly she is not interested in or to cripple at the hands of the scandal. Hedda is evidently afraid of scandals and she is faced with the decision of what next must be done before society is made known of her evil deeds.
The final triangle presented in the play is with Hedda, Thea and Tesman. Thea is Hedda's greatest arch rival. Thea is viewed as the traditional woman who is able to give birth and give life into anything that comes her way. In act IV, Thea is able to start afresh on the manuscript and her partner is none other than Tesman. Hedda sees the trend and is afraid that she may lose Tesman to Thea like she already did with Loevborg. Hedda envied Thea and so she was not prepared for her to have the last say. In act IV, Hedda is quite 'ticked off' by the fact that Thea is once more capable of creating something so important with her very own husband Tesman. Thea is viewed as the woman who is capable of creating things and giving it life. The manuscript is liken to a child, Thea was the one who supported Loevborg all the way and even after learning the 'truth' about the manuscript she was still willing to start all over again but this time her partner was Tesman. Hedda sees her as her arch rival and is very jealous of Thea. Hedda is the one who destroys everything that has been graced with her presence. She is unable to create anything in a positive manner. When Hedda realizes that she must fight back to gain Tesman, it could be said that she was too late to do anything about the situation. Tesman, being less concerned about Hedda responded and said "No, not at all. [Turns his head] You'll have to keep Hedda company from now on, Judge, and sees she doesn't get bored If you don't mind." This statement certainly did not resonate well with Hedda because she did not want anyone to have any control over her. This triangle indeed did give Hedda every reason to end her life at the end of the play. She did not want anyone, including Brack to have any control over her life, Hedda seen with pistols was the foreshadow of her being the one to determine who lives or who dies and that would have included herself.
In each of the triangle relationship presented in the play, Ibsen shows the effect that each had on Hedda, all Four involved her and it pinpointed the dramatic irony of the play. Hedda, a woman who wanted to defy all the conventions of being a woman, wife, and mother thought she could have gained control over everyone but failed to realize that even if she was smart enough to gain control, someone else would have been much smarter to outwit her. In my opinion, the triangles are very important because they present the countdown of Hedda's control and thirst for power. The triangle relationships should be given more recognition because it helps to build up to the climax in the play and the conflict is formulated through these triangles.
The triangle relationships proved that Hedda was not capable of being in control at all times. The desire to be powerful and have no one to answer to may have caused her demise. She was indeed afraid of the scandal but even more than the scandal, Hedda was more afraid of failure. She did not want to accept defeat so she felt that suicide was the only resort for her. Hedda may have felt that she could juggle all those relationships quite well but she was not prepared for the backfire. Having third persons involved in the relationship was not going to assist Hedda in any way; rather it only contributed to her meeting her death in the ultimate end. The reality is that even though Hedda may have felt that she could have succeeded without being caught, once third persons such as Brack are involved; the sins become more evident, hence Hedda was unable to be the powerful general daughter that she always wished she could be.
In conclusion, the triangle relationships did give a breakdown of the events that took place in each of the characters' lives and how it all affected them. Hedda, the main character of the play, a woman thirsty for power and control is unable to juggle all the relationships and eventually she gives in to the pressure and is unable to be the Hedda that the audience thought she should have been. The bearing of these relationships did contribute a great deal to the demise of Hedda, but it also reflected the provocative thought as to why Hedda felt suicide was her only means of escaping the problems she created for her own self. Even though Ibsen in my opinion, utilizes these triangular affairs in a very subtle manner, it created a critical thinking into how these triangular affairs assisted in the countdown to the eventual demise of Hedda Gabler.