Hedda Gabler, a controversial play by Henrik Ibsen, received the worst notices of all Ibsen’s plays when it first came out, but now is valued as the high point in Ibsen’s creative life and a masterpiece of feminist dramas. Hedda Gabler, created by the author as an enigma in the form of an anomalous woman, has indeed revealed the true cruel and dark side of the male-dominated society. In the play, repetitive use of certain symbols was significantly important to the rise and fall of the plotline. The three particular objects—the pistols, the manuscript and the vine leaves—have guided us towards the real Hedda: her thirst for freedom, and her conflict against the nineteen century society. Pistols The pistols, left by Hedda’s father, represent an important characteristics the father has passed to Hedda—a desire to have absolute control over others. Raised by her military father, Hedda possesses the characteristics of a soldier: pride of herself, but cold and imperious towards lower rank. She deliberately makes fun of Aunt Julle’s hat; describes Mrs.Elvsted as a woman with provoking hair; she is mean to the maid Berte; and her indifference to Aunt Rina’s death all show that she has no sympathy for women who show signs of weakness. The fact that she grows up shooting and riding horses, instead of playing dolls like other girls, also reveals her fascination for violence. Hedda enjoys freedom, the freedom to socialize with different people and have absolute control over them. But when reaches the age of 29, she gradually loses the ability to “dance around”, and therefore, she needs a home to settle down in order to maintain her status and reputation. Tesman is a perfect match according to Hedda’s plan, because he makes no demands on Hedda’s emotional incapacity; is unquestionably obedient to Hedda; and provides her with material satisfaction and the freedom to access social life. But after the wedding, Hedda realizes her self-worth can not be realized; her control is limited to the house. She will have no value outside the house due to the fact it is unthinkable for women to receive acceptance from public and professional fields. And that’s why when Tesman is excited about his lovely house with Hedda at the end of the first act, she feels deeply trapped and demands nothing but her father’s pistol—a symbol for masculine power. The pistols also play an important role in the relationship between Hedda and Lovborg. Hedda has once aimed the pistol at Lovborg when they were lovers; and at Lovborg’s last visit, Hedda hands the same pistol to Lovborg which accidentally ends his life. The fact that Hedda enjoys playing with her pistol reveals her destructive character, and Lovborg unfortunately becomes the victim under Hedda’s control. When Lovborg first comes back in town, he has both career and love: he has social reputation from his first book and is in a romantic relationship with Mrs. Elvsted. And there will be a bright future ahead of him after publishing his second book. But Hedda destroys Lovborg’s life step by step. First she discloses her secret between Mrs. Elvsted that she came to town because she is worried Lovborg will start drinking again. Lovborg is outraged by Mrs. Elvsted’s distrust and picks up his drinking habit. Then Hedda burnt Lovborg’s manuscript without telling him the truth. Lovborg’s career collapses and romantic relationship ends, he is at the point of nervous breakdown. Hedda’s pistol is the final push for Lovborg to the edge of death. After Lovborg dies, Hedda is not sad at all. She keeps asking if Lovborg has died beautifully, shows that Hedda thinks of death more as a performance than the end of life, and she enjoys the fact that she is the director of this whole performance. Again, the pistol is used as a symbol of aggressive control, the control of life and death. The pistol scene is emphasized again at the end of the play when Hedda kills herself beautifully with a shot to the temple. Her suicide is not a cowardly action; rather it is a part of her rebelling against the society. Born free, Hedda cannot stand the fact she will be in Brack’s control to avoid scandal. Her carefully designed death proves to the readers that she is in control of nobody but herself. She is indeed like the pistols she owns: dangerous, destructive, and powerful. The manuscript In the play, Ibsen subtly connects the four main characters, Hedda, Lovborg, Tesman and Mrs. Elvsted, through creating, burning and recovering the manuscript. The symbol manuscript represents the defiance against nineteenth century norms. Not only is the manuscript’s content innovative—“the future course of civilization” (Ibsen 212)—but the fact that Mrs. Elvsted is involved in the creation of it is revolutionary in itself, because a woman participates in seminal work. Being enslaved into a standard household, Hedda desires the freedom of expression and the power to change the society. Lovborg enables Hedda to feel the excitement and thrill of the outside world through his own experience. But due to the fact Hedda is too afraid of any responsibilities and scandals, she has to sacrifice fantasies for the cruel reality. When she later learns that Mrs. Elvsted is in a romantic relationship with Lovborg, the way that she had hoped to be, namely that Mrs.Elvsted was taught by Lovborg to think; she shares his work and helps him with his writing; and most importantly, she has control over him (Ibsen 190), Hedda certainly cannot bear it anymore. She is jealous of Mrs. Elvsted’s exuberant life, her courage towards freedom and self-realization, at the same time, she cannot stand the fact other people have more control than her. Her anger and jealousy drives her to burn the manuscript and to persuade Lovborg to suicide. The manuscript is seen as a child of Lovborg and Mrs. Elvsted. When Hedda is burning the manuscript, she whispers to herself “Now I’m burning your child, Thea! With your curly hair! Your child and Ejlert Lovborg’s. I’m burning…burning your child. (Ibsen 246). She says it with such hatred and in a satisfying tone, because she hates her current life and the only thing that can satisfy her is if another human being’s fate (the manuscript) is in her hands. Ibsen gives the fate of the manuscript a relatively optimistic ending because Mrs. Elvsted has kept all the notes, and therefore there is a possibility to recover the original piece. When Hedda sees the image of Mrs. Elvsted and Tesman together recovering the manuscript, she sees the reborn of the “child” she just destroyed, and now she realizes that she has no power to stop the manuscript from coming to life anymore. She asks Mrs. Elvsted “Isn’t this strange for you, Thea? Now you’re sitting here together with Tesman…as you used to sit with Ejlert Lovborg.” (Ibsen 263) Hedda is indeed jealous of Mrs. Elvested that she is able to inspire both her husband and Lovborg while Hedda herself can do none. Hedda’s power diminishes in front of Mrs. Elvsted. While she is not capable to take control outside the house, now she loses control inside the house as well. Moreover, Mr. Brack is trying to blackmail Hedda into an affair. All the things added together also push Hedda to the edge of death that she chooses rather to control her own death than to live inferior for the rest of her life. Mrs. Elvsted creates, nurtures, and recovers the manuscript like a mother; the manuscript has become a part of her. If Hedda is dangerous and destructive like the pistol, then Mrs. Elvsted can certainly represent the manuscript in the play. Mrs. Elvsted is an example of the “New Woman”, women who pushes against the limits which society impose on them during the nineteen century. Mrs. Elvsted leaves her loveless husband and chooses to realize her self-value assisting and inspiring a promising writer. Her action is a breakthrough in changing gender norms. Winnifred Harper Cooley says in The New Womanhood “The new woman, in the sense of the best woman, the flower of all the womanhood of past ages, has come to stay — if civilization is to endure.” (Cooley 32) It is fascinating that the manuscript itself also talks about the future course of civilization. Ibsen might want to convey that new women’s fight towards self-realization is one of the main forces that drive the course of civilization. And the recovery of the manuscript is an indication that the feminine revolution can never be suppressed, it will continue if civilization is to endure. The vine leaves The vine leaves is mentioned by Hedda six times in the play. The symbol comes from Greek mythology, in which God Dionysus is a happily drunk man wearing a wreath of vine leaves on his head. Dionysus is the god of wine, revelry, and bacchantic elation. His life is all about seeking pleasure. Hedda sees Lovborg as God Dionysus, a man full of creative ideas, bacchantic, and free from orders and disciplines. He can have a reputation in his career, and at the same time keeps a romantic relationship with a woman. Hedda herself is Dionysian: ecstatic, orgiastic, irrational, frenzied and undisciplined. But due to the society limitation and her irresponsible attitude towards everything, her rebellious thoughts cannot put into action. When Mrs. Elvsted says Lovborg now left off his old ways because of her, Hedda thinks Lovborg’s bacchantic nature is being suppressed, and she is eager to set his true self free. She discloses the secret to Lovborg that Mrs. Elvsted comes to town to prevent him from drinking. Lovborg angrily leaves the house to join Brack’s party. Hedda convinced Mrs. Elvsted Ejlert Lovborg will come back, with vine leaves in his hair. Nobody knows what vine leaves means except Hedda herself; she sees the revival of God Dionysian inside of Lovborg. But in fact, Lovborg did not commit a suicide; he was shot accidentally in the breast instead of at the temple, it is Hedda Gabler who at last “has vine leaves in her hair”. Throughout her life, her death is the only action she takes responsibility for. Like Mrs. Elvsted, Hedda Gabler is a “New Woman” at her time; but unlike Mrs. Elvsted, Hedda chooses to rebel in a way of death, beautifully at the temple.