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.
Lövborg and Thea’s Manuscript Quotes in Hedda Gabler
I don’t want to look at sickness and death. I must be free of everything that’s ugly.
I want you to know, Lövborg, what you’ve done to the book…. For the rest of my life it’ll be for me as though you killed a little child.
Hedda: And what are you going to do, then?
Lövborg: Nothing. Just put an end to it all. The sooner the better.
Hedda: Ejlert Lövborg…listen to me…. Couldn’t you let it happen… beautifully?
Now I’m burning your child, Thea! With your curly hair! Your child and Ejlert Lövborg’s. I’m burning…burning your child.