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Why Does Hedda Gabler Marry Jørgen Tesman?

From: Modern Drama
Volume 28, Number 4, Winter 1985
pp. 591-610 | 10.1353/mdr.1985.0039

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Why Does Hedda Gabler Marry Jørgen Tesman?
Stein Haugom Olsen

Stein Haugom Olsen teaches English at the University of Oslo. He has published a book in literary aesthetics, The Structure of Literary Understanding (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1978), which appears in The Cambridge Paperback Library. He has also published a number of articles on problems in literary aesthetics in various philosophical and critical journals (The British Journal of Aesthetics, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Inquiry, Philosophical Quarterly, Mind, New Literary History) and in various anthologies. His only previous venture into criticism was an article in Critical Quarterly some years ago on Jane Austen's Emma.


1. Francis Bull, Halvdan Koht, and Didrik Arup Seip. Ibsens drama. Innledninger til hundreårsutgaven av Henrik Ibsens samlede verker (Oslo, 1972), p. 207.

2. Else Høst, "Hedda Gabler." En monografi (Oslo, 1958), pp. 95-96. My translation.

3. Daniel Haakonsen, Henrik Ibsen. Mennesket og kunstneren (Oslo, 1981), p. 220. My translation.

4. The translation is that of Jens Arup in The Oxford Ibsen, vol. VII (London, 1966). Where I have felt this translation to be unsatisfactory, I have provided my own and indicated this by putting an asterisk at the end of the quotation.

5. Lady Falk is statsrådinne Falk. She was the widow of a Cabinet Minister.

6. "Assessor - One who sits beside; hence one who shares another's position, rank, etc.," Shorter O.E.D. Brack's title is usually translated "judge." He is, however, a judge at a collegiate court where there are always several judges on the bench; this position indicates why he has the title Assessor. The parasite theme is prominent in Hedda Gabler, and Brack is addressed rarely just as "Brack," but almost always as "Assessor Brack" or just "Assessor." Jens Arup in The Oxford Ibsen always translates this title as "Mr. Brack" and consequently loses the continual reminder of Brack's role and of the parasite theme.

7. John Northam, Ibsen. A Critical Study (Cambridge, 1973), p. 179.

8. Muriel C. Bradbrook, Ibsen the Norwegian (London, new ed. 1966), p. 117.