Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
Hedda Gabler, daughter of an aristocratic general, has just returned to her villa in Kristiania (now Oslo) from her honeymoon. Her husband is Jørgen Tesman, an aspiring, young, reliable (but not brilliant) academic who has combined research with their honeymoon. It becomes clear in the course of the play that she has never loved him but has married him for reasons pertaining to the boring nature of her life. It is also suggested that she may be pregnant.
The reappearance of Tesman's academic rival, Ejlert Løvborg, throws their lives into disarray. Løvborg, a writer, is also a recovered alcoholic who has wasted his talent until now. Thanks to a relationship with Hedda's old schoolmate Thea Elvsted (who has left her husband for him), Løvborg shows signs of rehabilitation and has just completed a bestseller in the same field as Tesman.
The critical success of his recently published work transforms Løvborg into a threat to Tesman, as Løvborg becomes a competitor for the university professorship Tesman had been counting on. Tesman and Gabler are financially overstretched, and Tesman tells Hedda that he will not be able to finance the regular entertaining or luxurious housekeeping that Gabler had been expecting. Upon meeting Løvborg, however, the couple discover that he has no intention of competing for the professorship, but rather has spent the last few years laboring with Mrs. Elvsted over what he considers to be his masterpiece, the "sequel" to his recently published work.
Apparently jealous of Mrs. Elvsted's influence over Løvborg, Gabler hopes to come between them. She provokes Løvborg to get drunk and go to a party. Tesman returns home from the party and reveals that he found the manuscript of Løvborg's great work, which the latter has lost while drunk. When Gabler next sees Løvborg, he confesses to her, despairingly, that he has lost the manuscript. Instead of telling him that the manuscript has been found, Gabler encourages him to commit suicide, giving him a pistol. She then burns the manuscript and tells Tesman she has destroyed it to secure their future.
When the news comes that Løvborg has indeed killed himself, Tesman and Mrs. Elvsted are determined to try to reconstruct his book from Løvborg's notes, which Mrs. Elvsted has kept. Gabler is shocked to discover from Judge Brack (a friend of Tesman's), that Løvborg's death, in a brothel, was messy and probably accidental (this "ridiculous and vile" death contrasts with the "beautiful and free" one that Gabler had imagined for him). Worse, Brack knows the origins of the pistol. He tells Gabler that if he reveals what he knows, a scandal will likely arise due to her role in giving Løvborg the pistol. Gabler realizes that this places Brack in a position of power over her. Leaving the others, she goes into her smaller room and shoots herself in the head. The others in the room assume that Gabler is simply firing shots, and they follow the sound to investigate. The play ends with Tesman, Brack, and Mrs. Elvsted discovering her body.