Hedda Gabler

Props, Stage Directions, and Their Symbolism in Hedda Gabler College

The play Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen centers on a woman named Hedda, the daughter of General Gabler, who is married to George Tesman - a person in the middle class. In the play, Ibsen has described the set in a way which makes it very distinct; the rooms are depicted as dark, with the curtains drawn back. Above the sofa, there hangs a big portrait of General Gabler. Ibsen has used these props and stage directions in the play as symbols to help us develop a much deeper understanding of the plot itself as well as of the character of Hedda.

What strikes the reader and audience of the play from the very first Act is Hedda’s apparent love of ‘darkness’ - both literal as well as figurative. The stage directions begin with descriptions of the rooms: ‘tastefully appointed reception room, decorated in dark colours’ (167) and ‘downstage by the right is a large, dark, porcelain stove’ (167), which introduce the dark look of the play. Almost as soon as Hedda makes her first appearance in the play, she remarks “Ugh...the maid’s been and opened the verandah door. The place is flooded with sunlight” (176). Afterwards, she asks Tesman to close the windows. Everytime she opens a curtain, there is a mention of her closing them again, thus...

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