Both authors give the characters a problem, and that is they lack motivation. Hedda has no motivation in life. She has an empty will, without interests or substantial goals. She also has a lack of imagination and so she has nothing to do but be bored. Ibsen uses her habit of firing her pistols from time to time for no apparent reason to dramatise her frustration with the emptiness of her4 life. Also, she has a sense of lack of accomplishments and she feels she has not fulfilled her wishes.
This causes her to be envious of Mrs.Elvsted who has inspired Lovborg to write his manuscript and has helped him in the process. This is symbolized in Hedda wanting to burn Mrs. Elvsted’s hair, which is much nicer than Hedda’s hair. Hedda feels entrapped by her gender and by her ‘what will others think/say’ mentality. In the setting of the play, Ibsen has the pistols, the piano and the writing desk in the back room. These items are her only energy outlets, and having them in the back room symbolizes that entrapment that she feels. Therese also has no purpose or motivation in life.
She has not accomplished anything and does not intend to accomplish anything. Zola shows her as someone who just sat around all day, “she preferred to sit doing nothing, staring into space and letting her mind wander aimlessly” 21. But then Zola introduces her way out, Laurent. . “She had never seen a real man before. Laurent, tall, strong and fresh-faced, filled her with astonishment” 22. He was a real red-blooded man. He had passions – he wants to be a painter. He has emotions – he hates his father. He has desires – he speaks openly of painting naked women and admiring their curves.
Therese thought she was in love. And so, her escape from her life of boredom is the affair with Laurent, she finally has hope. Ibsen also gives Hedda a way out, Judge Brack, he is willing to have an affair with her and hints it to her several times. Hedda also flirts with him constantly, whenever they are alone, hinting the possibility of an affair but she is too afraid of scandal so she would never take such a step. She is only leading him on, simply as a form of entertainment. Unfortunately both women want what they cannot have and do not want what they have.
Hedda wants the relationship Mrs.Elvsted has with Lovborg but refuses to have that same relationship with George Tesman. While, Therese wants an affair with Laurent but when they can finally have each other and they do not have Camille in their way, she stops loving Laurent. And because Zola and Ibsen introduce Therese and Hedda in that way it will have to lead to their tragic ending. Hedda’s only way out of her misery and boredom is to commit suicide and fulfill her own dream of a beautiful death. And Therese’s way out, the affair with Laurent, backfired on her and actually lead to her suicide with her accomplice in murder and betrayal, Laurent.