While General Gabler’s pistols and alcohol are destructive temptations launched from characters’ pasts into their presents, Lövborg and Thea Elvsted’s manuscript symbolizes creation, the redemption of the past, and hope for the future (the manuscript itself, after all, takes the future for its subject matter). Mrs. Elvsted inspired Lövborg in writing the manuscript, in what is virtually the only creative relationship between two people in the play. The manuscript itself promises to redeem Lövborg of his past disgrace, as well as to establish him with a bright reputation in the future. So important is the manuscript to Lövborg and Thea that they go so far as to consider it to be their very own child. However, Lövborg’s lack of self-control, coupled with Hedda’s destructive nature, lead to the loss and fiery death of this child. (Compare this with the fact that Hedda, who is pregnant from the beginning of the play, dreads the paltriness and boredom promised by motherhood, and takes her unborn child to death with her when she commits suicide.) Perhaps Mrs. Elvsted will inspire Jörgen to successfully reconstruct the Lövborg’s manuscript—this is the only prospect of creative redemption that the play leaves us with when the curtain falls.
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Lövborg and Thea’s Manuscript appears in Hedda Gabler. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...morning coffee—or night coffee, as the case may be. Now Tesman resolves to return Lövborg’s manuscript to him as soon as possible. Please don’t, asks Hedda—she wants to read it first.... (full context)
...madam herself or one of the prostitutes in her employ of robbing him of his manuscript. He started a fight, which devolved into a large brawl, involving ladies and gentlemen both.... (full context)
...Aunt Rina’s death but also about Lövborg, to whom he has yet to return the manuscript. Tesman also mentions having met Thea Elvsted while out—did you tell her about the manuscript,... (full context)