Dionysus is the Greek god of fertility and fulfillment In one version of his myth, he died in September, the time of the harvest, to rise again. Thus nature renews itself and life continues. In another story, which obviously symbolizes fertility, Dionysus was killed by being castrated and his genitals were scattered. Because of the frenzied rites of Dionysus's worshippers, he was associated with orgies and totally unrestrained behavior; the adjectives Dionysiac and Dionysian mean ecstatic, wild, or frenzied. The Greeks also called him Bacchus. This name gives rise to the words bacchanal, a drunken celebration or a reveler; bacchanalia, a drunken festivity; and bacchant, a drunken reveler. Modern theory finds one origin of Greek drama in the Dionysian celebrations.

Clearly, Hedda has idealized the Bacchic or Dionysian vine leaves, which connect Lovborg to Dionysus or Bacchus. Other details continue a connection with Dionysus: Lovborg dies of a wound in the groin, and his work is resurrected after his death by Tesman and Thea. Hedda's using the symbol of the vine leaves radiates ironies:

  • The repressed Hedda is attracted to the orgiastic behavior of the god;
  • She is repelled and frightened when the reality of Lovborg's disorderly (Dionysiac) behavior become clear to her after Brack's party.
  • She rejects both physical and intellectual creativity; she denies her own pregnancy and has no interest in or understanding of Lovborg's achievement.
  • The image of pagan orgies conflicts with the restrictive bourgeois values of the Tesmans and the aristocratic values of Hedda and Brack. The vine leaves which symbolize Hedda's unexpressed rebellion against society also reveal how profoundly she needs to be accepted by her society and to maintain her status as General Gabler's daughter.

    Hedda Gabler, Act II || Core Studies 6 Page || Melani Home Page