Hedda Gabler offers diverse possibilities for women in the nineteenth century. The options for married, unmarried and working women are all portrayed throughout the play. The play displays many different women in different circumstances portraying different perspectives on different situations for nineteenth century women.
Respectable unmarried women in the 19th century had little social life; this aspect of society is represented in Hedda Gabler by Juliane Tesman and Berte. Juliane Tesman is the aunt of Jörgen Tesman; her life consisted of serving the needs of her family. There was no prospect of her starting a family of her own at her age; therefore her life was lived to benefit her existing family members: Jörgen and Rina. This was expected of a respectable unmarried woman of her age whose family was wealthy enough to provide an annuity for her. In the play, Juliane’s service to her family is exemplified by her nursing for Rina and the sacrifices she makes to help Jörgen and his new wife. ”I have given mortgage on the annuity .” sacrificing her own money to help Jörgen pay for his home, and sacrificing her maid to Jörgen and Hedda’s household, leaving her the duties that would normally be taken on by a maid. “Heaven knows it was dreadfully hard for me to part with you!” She tells the maid Berte.
Berte is another example of a respectable unmarried woman in society. Berte is a maid to Jörgen and Hedda. Unlike Jörgen’s two Aunts, Berte did not have a family that was wealthy enough to provide financial support, so she had to work to earn a living. Similarly to Julianne, Berte was a live-in maid, spending the majority of her time serving Jörgen and Hedda. Therefore, what is drawn from Hedda Gabler is the role of the respectable unmarried woman was service to their family or service to the family paying their salary.
In the nineteenth century, there were also unmarried women that were not respected. Representing this facet is Mademoiselle Diana. She is the...