Hedda Gabler

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Judge Brack is a shrewd and respected man in society, a cynical old bachelor, and a regular guest at the Tesmans’ villa. He is a gentleman of 45, stocky and elastic in his movements, with short, almost black hair and lively, playful eyes. He takes pleasure in having a hand in other people’s business, as when he arranges the Tesmans’ finances and delivers professional news to Tesman himself. However, it is the mistress of the house, Hedda, with whom Brack especially seeks intimacy. The two deviously gossip together, but underneath their superficialities a campaign of control is being waged: Brack again and again obliquely propositions Hedda, and she again and again evades him. Their games of sexual innuendo, veiled threats, and a shared world-weariness provide both with a reprieve from the stale monotony of their lives. In the end, however, Judge Brack at last gets the upper hand over Hedda—but Hedda surprises him by doing the unthinkable.

Judge Brack Quotes in Hedda Gabler

The Hedda Gabler quotes below are all either spoken by Judge Brack or refer to Judge Brack. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Power and Influence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Oxford University Press edition of Hedda Gabler published in 2008.
Act 2 Quotes

Hedda: Hullo again, Mr. Brack!

Brack: Good afternoon to you, Mrs. Tesman!

Hedda: I’m going to shoot you sir!

Related Characters: Hedda Gabler (speaker), Judge Brack
Related Symbols: General Gabler’s Pistols
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

The second act opens with Hedda loading her father's pistols before Judge Brack arrives in her garden. This shocking moment between Hedda and Judge Brack reveals how dramatically Hedda can exert her power and influence, as well as how detached she is from the "normal" social norms of the bourgeoisie.

The first two lines are regular and even friendly. Hedda and Brack refer to one another politely, and they are operating well within their established social boundaries. Hedda's next line, "I'm going to shoot you sir!" is then a shocking satire of their earlier greeting. By calling him "sir" as she threatens to shoot him, she mocks their superficial politeness even as she reveals the brutality beneath it. Judge Brack and Hedda spend the length of the play trying to control one another, and it is telling that this darkly comic moment is the first time we have seen them alone with one another onstage.  

This is not an idle threat, either, as Hedda does go on to shoot at (and purposefully miss) Judge Brack. In doing so, she further reveals how detached she is from the society that surrounds her. To joke about shooting at people is scandalous enough—to actually do it is astonishing. Hedda is a loose gunshot in a hushed, provincial world.

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Brack: But my dearest lady, how could you do such a thing! To that harmless old soul!

Hedda: Oh, you know how it is…these things just suddenly come over me. And then I can’t resist them. Oh, I don’t know myself how to explain it.

Related Characters: Hedda Gabler (speaker), Judge Brack
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

Hedda and Judge Brack have been speaking privately, and Hedda has told Brack that she was bored on her honeymoon and that she is not in love with Tesman. Brack propositions Hedda to begin an affair with him, but she turns him down, feeling that an affair would be sordid, unbeautiful, and limiting.

Here, she has just confessed that she mocked Miss Tesman's hat on purpose in Act One, and Brack is admonishing her for it. In this exchange, we see the tension between modern society and the individual, with Brack on the side of society, and Hedda expressing herself in radically individual terms. 

Brack's surprise is dependent on social norms—Miss Tesman is "harmless" and "old," and therefore cruelty towards her is unwarranted. For Hedda, however, these considerations are not important. She is capriciously cruel and decided to hurt Miss Tesman simply because the opportunity presented itself. 

In her lines, Hedda reveals her lack of motivation for the act. "These things just suddenly come over" her, she says. Hedda is desperately stifled by her life and the people surrounding her, and because of this, she takes every chance of exercising power, regardless of how petty or arbitrary it may be.  

Hedda: I’ve often thought there’s only one thing in the world I’m any good at.

Brack: And what might that be, may I venture to ask?

Hedda: Boring myself to death.

Related Characters: Hedda Gabler (speaker), Judge Brack
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

Later in her conversation with Judge Brack, Hedda laments how there is nothing to interest her in the future—no potential for excitement or intrigue. Brack says that she will soon have a new responsibility (presumably motherhood) which will fill her days. Here, we see her response to this allusion, which again reveals her animosity towards the role of motherhood. 

The only talent Hedda has, according to Hedda, is boring herself "to death." We see that Hedda would prefer to die of boredom than to become a mother, which would entail a complete loss of power and agency to her child. 

This line is especially interesting in the context of Hedda's suicide. We might wonder how much of a part boredom and frustration play into her eventual death. 

Act 3 Quotes

Hedda: You’re quite a formidable person…when it comes to the point.

Brack: You think so?

Hedda: Yes, I’m beginning to think so, now. And I’m content…so long as you don’t have any sort of hold over me.

Related Characters: Hedda Gabler (speaker), Judge Brack
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

Judge Brack has been telling Hedda the details of Lovborg's drinking spree the night before. In addition to drinking too much, Lovborg went to a brothel, started a fight, and was arrested. Hedda asks why Brack has been tracking Lovborg's movements so closely, and Brack responds that he wanted to ensure that Lovborg will not be invited to the Tesman villa again. He wants to the be the only other man in Hedda's life, and he will fight for the privilege.

Hedda and Judge Brack are the characters in the play with the most visible desire to exercise power and influence over other people, and in these lines we see them grappling with one another, trying to assert dominance.

In her lines, Hedda says that Brack is "formidable," and in this moment she realizes that he will not be satisfied until he has exercised his power over her by compelling her to have an affair with him. Brack is not a worthy opponent for Hedda, as the very way in which he wants to break social norms—an extramarital affair—is common and sordid to Hedda. Hedda responds defensively by reminding him that he doesn't have power over her, and that she could never live with herself if he did.

Act 4 Quotes

Hedda: He was shot in the breast?

Brack: Yes…as I said.

Hedda: Not in the temple?

Brack: In the breast, Mrs. Tesman.

Hedda: Well…the breast is good, too.

Related Characters: Hedda Gabler (speaker), Judge Brack (speaker), Ejlert Lövborg
Related Symbols: General Gabler’s Pistols
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

Judge Brack and Mrs. Elvsted enter and Brack tells them that Lovborg is in the hospital after a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and is not expected to survive. Hedda's delight at this news is clouded by Brack's information that Lovborg was shot in the breast. 

Here, Hedda confirms that he did not shoot himself in the temple. She is surprised and upset by this fact. The temple, she feels, would be the correct, most beautiful way to commit suicide. Presumably, because it would destroy the brain and be an instantaneous death, whereas the breast would target the more sentimental organ of the heart, and be a slower, more prolonged and less dignified death. Additionally, the fact that he shot himself in the breast undermines Hedda's control over Lovborg, which would have been total had he shot himself where she wanted him to. Brack, for his part, is growing suspicious of Hedda during this exchange.

After a moment, Hedda says nearly inaudibly that "the breast is good, too." The control of suicide itself is the most important part of the beautiful death, and shooting oneself in the breast is still courageous and beautiful, she feels, if slightly less so than the temple. Hedda compromises here by accepting the breast into her plan for Lovborg, and in doing so reveals further how desperate she is to feel that she had control over Lovborg's final, fatal action. 


Hedda: And so I am in your power, Mr. Brack. From now on I am at your mercy.

Brack: Dearest Hedda…believe me…I shall not abuse the position.

Hedda: In your power, all the same. Subject to your will and your demands. No longer free! No! That’s a thought that I’ll never endure! Never.

Related Characters: Hedda Gabler (speaker), Judge Brack (speaker)
Related Symbols: General Gabler’s Pistols
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:

General Gabler's pistol links Hedda to Lovborg's death. If it is discovered that the pistol was hers, she will be forced to testify in court that he either stole it, or that she gave it to him. In either case, it will be a terrible scandal. Judge Brack says, however, that no one need know that the pistol was hers—that he will not tell anyone. 

Here, Hedda sees at what cost Brack's silence will come. She will have to subordinate her will to his. He has been attempting to gain control over her for the length of the play, and now, finally, he has found a way to trap her. Brack's falsely benevolent response that he will "not abuse the position" is disgusting to Hedda. It is a reminder that the position is his to abuse or not—he has complete control over her.

Hedda responds accordingly. The situation is unlivable. She cannot endure even the "thought" of being controlled by another person, much less the act of being in their power. This is the deciding moment for Hedda. She can either go along with Brack, and be "no longer free," or she can make a last free choice—to kill herself. Hedda's will is much stronger than that of Lovborg's, and her death will be as beautiful and courageous, as she can make it. She then excuses herself and shoots herself in the temple. Rather than spend a moment under the thumb of another human being, Hedda exercises her last, spectacular display of power. The question for us, then, is whether to view this suicide as Hedda intended—a beautiful tragedy—or as the cliched ending to a farcical attempt at manipulation and creation—or as both.

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Judge Brack Character Timeline in Hedda Gabler

The timeline below shows where the character Judge Brack appears in Hedda Gabler. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
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...Hedda had too many suitcases that had to come. Aunt Julle says it’s quite all right—Judge Brack took her home. Berte asks if she should go into Miss Hedda’s chambers and... (full context)
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...terribly expensive, Aunt Julle suggests. Tesman admits that it is expensive, despite the fact that Judge Brack got very favorable financial terms on the house for the Tesmans—or at least the... (full context)
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Aunt Julle tells her nephew not to worry: with Judge Brack’s help, she has taken out a mortgage on her and Aunt Rina’s annuity to... (full context)
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...give to Berte. Hedda takes the letter, but just then Berte enters from the hall. Judge Brack is here, she announces. Hedda instructs Berte to ask him to step inside, and... (full context)
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Judge Brack enters, bowing with his hat in hand. Tesman introduces him to Mrs. Elvsted (whom... (full context)
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Tesman and Judge Brack sit down, and the Judge says he has a little matter to talk about... (full context)
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Brack does have some news for Tesman: his old friend Ejlert Lövborg is back in town—as... (full context)
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...that Tesman is forever worrying about what people are going to find to live on. Judge Brack suggests that Lövborg has influential relations who, despite disowning him long ago, may reclaim... (full context)
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Judge Brack then, with hesitation, reveals serious news: the appointment to the professorship which Tesman was... (full context)
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Judge Brack exits. Tesman confides in Hedda that it was “idiotically romantic” of him to get... (full context)
Act 2
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Hedda sees Judge Brack approaching the Tesmans’ villa from the back, through the garden. She greets him, raises... (full context)
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Hedda complains that she hasn’t had any visitors. Judge Brack asks if Tesman is in, but Hedda says no, he ran off to his... (full context)
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Hedda and Judge Brack sit down for a comfortable gossip. The two say they have missed talking together.... (full context)
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Judge Brack wonders how it was that Tesman won Hedda’s hand in marriage in the first... (full context)
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Judge Brack laughs and says that he respects the bonds of holy matrimony. Hedda banteringly says... (full context)
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...concedes that she would have been glad of a third person on her honeymoon trip. Brack says that passengers on the train of marriage can always jump out and move around... (full context)
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...many academic books under his arms and in his pockets. He is surprised to find Brack there already, as Berte didn’t mention anything about a guest. Tesman goes on to say... (full context)
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Tesman exits. Judge Brack asks Hedda about the hat incident, and Hedda reveals that she only pretended to... (full context)
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...for the place at all. This conversation then precipitated the couple’s engagement, marriage, and honeymoon. Judge Brack finds the story “delicious.” (full context)
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...lavender and potpourri in her house, which she suspects Aunt Julle of having wafted in. Judge Brack thinks the smell is a relic of Lady Falk. In any case, the house... (full context)
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Hedda leans back and tells Brack that he can’t imagine how excruciatingly bored she will be here, with nothing inviting in... (full context)
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Judge Brack then suggests that Hedda might have to take on a new responsibility soon enough... (full context)
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...with him for the professorship. Hedda suggests that if Lövborg decides not to go to Judge Brack’s bachelor party later that night, she can always keep him company. Tesman doesn’t know... (full context)
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...from his new manuscript to Tesman, but Tesman doesn’t know if he can manage that. Judge Brack explains: he’s hosting a bachelor party that night, more or less in honor of... (full context)
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Hedda invites the gentlemen to partake of some cold (alcoholic) punch. Brack and the excited Tesman accept, but Lövborg declines. Hedda says that she will entertain him... (full context)
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...trip again. Tesman offers her some punch and cake and she accepts. He exits. Meanwhile, Judge Brack keeps an eye on Hedda and Lövborg from the inner room. (full context)
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...sex), but Hedda tactfully cuts him off, and Tesman returns to the inner room with Judge Brack. (full context)
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...himself. Thea pleads with Hedda to stop pressuring Lövborg, but Hedda tells him nonetheless that Judge Brack looked at him contemptuously when he declined he punch and the invitation to the... (full context)
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Tesman and Judge Brack enter—it’s time to go. Lövborg announces, despite Thea’s pleading, that he too is going... (full context)
Act 3
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...brought in suggests otherwise. Well, says Hedda, then both Tesman and Lövborg must be at Judge Brack’s. There, she fantasizes, Ejlert Lövborg is even now reading from his manuscript. (full context)
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Tesman then arrives at the saddest part of the story: while he and Brack and a few others were walking Lövborg home, Tesman fell back behind the others. While... (full context)
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Berte enters and announces that Judge Brack is outside. Hedda orders her to admit him. Hedda the snatches Lövborg’s manuscript from... (full context)
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Judge Brack enters just as Tesman rushes off to see Aunt Rina. Hedda and Brack sit... (full context)
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...from having the metaphorical vine leaves in his hair, behaved so squalidly the night before. Judge Brack concludes that he felt a duty to tell the Tesmans about Lövborg’s disgraceful conduct,... (full context)
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Brack goes a step further: he’s willing to fight using every means at his disposal to... (full context)
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Brack rises to leave through the garden, saying that he has no objection to going around... (full context)
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...says that all her husband told her when he came in very late was that Judge Brack’s party had been very lively. (full context)
Act 4
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Tesman is outraged. He yells at Hedda, and says that she’s committed a felony, as Judge Brack could inform her (don’t tell Brack anything, Hedda advises)—how could she, Hedda Tesman, do... (full context)
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Judge Brack enters. He announces that Ejlert Lövborg has in fact been taken to the hospital,... (full context)
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Tesman asks where Lövborg shot himself, and Judge Brack responds uncertainly, “at his lodgings.” Thea says that this isn’t possible, because she was... (full context)
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Hedda sits in an armchair and after a while Judge Brack joins her. Hedda confides in him that Lövborg’s death has relieved and liberated her,... (full context)
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Judge Brack feels compelled to disabuse Hedda of a beautiful illusion: Lövborg shot himself accidentally. Moreover,... (full context)
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Hedda is disgusted: “Everything I touch seems destined to turn into something…farcical,” she says. Brack has one final piece of news: he says that the pistol Lövborg died by must... (full context)
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Hedda and Judge Brack whisperingly resume their conversation about the pistol that Lövborg died by. Brack knows the... (full context)
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No one will know who owns the pistol, Judge Brack goes on to say, if he himself holds his tongue. Hedda understands at once... (full context)
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...if she can anything do to help, but Tesman says that she should just enjoy Judge Brack’s company. (full context)
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Tesman responds that Judge Brack will visit Hedda, and Brack confirms that he’ll visit every single night—the two of... (full context)
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...in from the right. Tesman cries that his wife has shot herself in the temple. Judge Brack, half prostrate in his armchair, is shocked: “People don’t do such things,” he exclaims. (full context)