2 Ibsen-The playwright Norway’s prominent dramatist Generally acknowledged as the founder of modern prose drama. He moved away from the Romantic style, and brought the problems and ideas of the day onto the stage of his time. Ibsen's famous plays, Brand (1866 ) and Peer Gynt (1867), were originally not intended for the stage; they were "reading dramas".
3 ". And what does it mean, then to be a poet "... And what does it mean, then to be a poet? It was a long time before I realized that to be a poet means essentially to see, but mark well, to see in such a way that whatever is seen is perceived by the audience just as the poet saw it. But only what has been lived through can be seen in that way and accepted in that way. And the secret of modern literature lies precisely in this matter of experiences that are lived through. All that I have written these last ten years, I have lived through spiritually." ('Speech to the Norwegian Students, September 10, 1874, from Speeces and New Letters, 1910)
4 Henrik Ibsen was born in Skien, a tiny coastal town in the south of Norway. His father, Knud Ibsen, was a prosperous merchant, whose financial failure changed the family's social position. Later Ibsen bitterly recalled how his father's friends broke all connections with him and the "Altenburg Manor", earlier known for it dinners and festivities. In disgrace the family moved to Venstøp farmhouse, provided to them by the creditors.
5 Early lifeAs a child Ibsen dreamed of becoming an artist. His mother, Marichen Cornelia Martine Altenburg, was an avid painter, and she loved theatre. Ibsen's education was interrupted by poverty and at the age of 15 he was apprenticed to a pharmacist in Grimstad. In 1846 he was compelled to support an illegitimate child born to a servant girl. Ibsen moved in 1850 to Christiania (now Oslo), where he attended Heltberg's "student factory", an irregular school for university candidates, and occasionally earned from his journalistic writings. In the same year he wrote two plays, Catiline, a tragedy, which reflected the atmosphere of the revolutionary year of 1848, and The Burial Mound, written under the pseudonym of Brynjolf Bjarme. Ibsen hoped to become a physician, but failed university entrance examinations.
6 Adult lifeCataline sold only a few copies but The Burial Mound was performed three times in The first performance of Cataline did not take place until After successfully performing a poem glorifying Norway's past, Ibsen was appointed in 1851 by Ole Bull as "stage poet" of Den Nationale Scene, a small theater in Bergen. During this period Ibsen staged more than 150 plays, becoming thoroughly acquainted with the techniques of professional theatrical performances. In addition to his managerial work he also wrote four plays based on Norwegian folklore and history, notably Lady Inger of Ostrat (1855), dealing with the liberation of medieval Norway. In 1852 his theater sent him on a study tour to Denmark and Germany.
7 Ibsen returned in 1857 to Christiania to continue as artistic director of the new Norwegian (Norske) Theatre. In 1858 he married Suzannah Thoresen, the stepchild of the novelist Magdalene Thoresen. Their only child, Sigurd, was born next year. After many productions, the theater went bankrupt, and Ibsen was appointed to the Christiania Theatre. To this period belong The Vikings of Helgoland (1858) and The Pretenders (1864), both historical sagas, and Love's Comedy (1862), a satire. Several of Ibsen's plays failed to attract audience. These drawbacks contributed to his decision to move abroad.
8 He left Norway for Italy in April, and traveled abroad for the next 27 years, returning to Norway only for brief visits. During this time, when he lived in Rome, Munich and Dresden, Ibsen wrote most of his best-known works, among others Brand, inspired by Kierkegaard's idea of subjectivity as truth. The symbolic tragedy tells about a priest, who follows his high principles at the cost of the lives of his child and his wife. Its theme, an individual with his God-given mission pitted against society, reflected Ibsen's disappointment in weak and spineless politicians. Brand's firm belief is "No compromise!". At the end Brand admits his own weakness and is buried by an avalanche.
9 Peer Gynt (1867), written mostly in Southern Italy, in Ischia and in Sorrento, was a satiric fantasy about a boastful egoist, irresponsible young man, an Ulyssean figure from Norwegian folklore. In both of these works the romantic hero is destroyed and their "ideal demands" are crushed. No doubt the themes also rose from Ibsen's disillusionment with his countrymen. In 1865 he wrote to Björnson: "If I were to tell at this moment what has been the chief result of my stay abroad, I should say that it consisted in my having driven out of myself the aestheticism which had a great power over me - an isolated aestheticism with a claim to independent existence. Aestheticism of this kind seem to me now as a great curse to poetry as theology is to religion."
10 A Doll´s House (1879) was a social drama, which caused a sensation and toured Europe and America. In the play a woman refuses to obey her husband and walks out from her apparently perfect marriage, her life in the "doll's house". At the the turn-of-the-century physicians used Nora, whose mood changes from joy to depression in short cycles of time, as an example of "female hysteria". Later Havelock Ellis, inspired by Nora's character, saw in her "the promise of a new social order."
11 Later lifeIbsen returned to Norway in 1891 and continued to write until a stroke in His marriage was joyless, but he had a few episodes of friendship with young women. In 1898 Ibsen received the world's homage on the occasion of his 70th birthday. George Bernard Shaw called him the greatest living dramatist in a lecture entitled 'The Quintessence of Ibsenism'. Ibsen's son married Bjørnson's daughter Bergliot. The marriage built a bridge of friendship between the two writers. Their relationship had broken after Ibsen's play The League of Youth (1869), where the central character resembled Bjørnson. Ibsen died in Christiania on May 23, The final years of his life were clouded by mental illness. When We Dead Awaken (1899), Ibsen's last dramatic effort, showed the influence of Strindberg."A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view." (from Ibsen's Workshop, 1912)
12 otherIbsen used A Doll’s House as one vehicle for questioning the importance—and the tyranny—of wealth. This play comes from Ibsen’s middle period, when his most radical ideas were presented.
15 Terms to know External conflict – between Helmer and his wife Nora Interior conflict – psychological conflict within a personExposition – some speeches, incidents, or scenes give an additional dimension to explain background information that will have an effect on character development. Ibsen weaves the exposition into the drama itself (compared to the classics of Greek drama or Shakespeare, where a chorus or character gives an initial speech that is almost an orientation). Ibsen challenges his audience to understand—almost participate in—the gradual rise of tension in the conflict
16 More termsRound characters – fully formed characters with an interior lifeFlat characters – have limited personalities and offer the audience little real interest. The role of a flat character is to participate in incidents that move the action forward or to behave in a predictable way that moves another character to change.Dynamic character – when a character does grow or change. It is more likely that a round character will also be a dynamic character, but it is NOT a requirement.Static characters – characters who stay the same, developmentally; most flat characters are static and are limited in the ability to change or grow.
17 Even more termsStock character – these are almost like mass-produced items that are kept in stock in a store: you know exactly what you are buying. A stock character is a stereotype, manifesting universal characteristics (ex: the dumb blonde, a belligerent cop, the whining brat, the prejudiced Southerner). In this play, it is the nursemaid who is the stock character (loyal, patient, supportive).Foil – the less developed character is used as a point of contrast in which a dynamic character’s growth is made more noticeable by the sameness of the foil. Often, a stock, flat, or static character is used as foil (this notion is used to good effect in Act III).
18 Figurative languageMetaphor of the “little squirrel” – note the significance of this in the play.Little imagery is used because it is a realistic play.Strong visual symbolism used to convey the play’s points.Monologue – sustained speech by a single character who reveals something of his or her inner workings. In Act III, both Helmer and Nora have monologues that explain their world views.
19 Freytag’s pyramid Designed by a German critic, Gustav Freytag Normally designed with the five-act play in mindIbsen experimented with form as well as subject with this method.A Doll’s House has several elements of the “well-made play”, but it departs from this model in important respects. Chief among these is the closing structure of the play. This play has a longer denouement, with an ending that shocked audiences in Ibsen’s day. It has a non-traditional resolution.
20 IronySituational irony – occurs when the reality of the situation is not what appears on the surfaceVerbal irony – occurs when a character makes a comment that is heard one way but meant in another.Irony used to foreshadow other events in the play.
21 Social contextPublished in 1879 while Ibsen lived in self-imposed exile, though he was very closely attuned to social developments in his native Norway as well as to the mores in the rest of the continent.England had a large influence politically and militarily.Queen Victoria set standards for middle class behavior; men were to be held up as the superior being in the household. Art and literature depicted the calm household under the quiet authority of the male.
22 But challenges to this established concept were being published and were considered shocking and radical. Charles Dickens exposed the bare and brutal underbelly of Victorian life (the disregard of the poor, class inequities, exploitation of those in domestic service/manual labor because of their lack of educational access, and the effects of alcohol, poverty, and abuse).
23 Women didn’t have the right to vote Women didn’t have the right to vote. In GB, the first resolution proposing that women be empowered to vote was introduced into Parliament in The effort failed. Social critics began to think and write about he penalty society paid when only half of its members participate as voting citizens.Subjection of Women was published in 1869, ten years before A Doll’s House. A second bill proposing women’s suffrage was reintroduced in Parliament in Women sought newspaper coverage as one way of achieving their aim. Political action took place. Now it was in the mainstream, spreading to novels and plays.Women gained the right to vote in Norway in Finland was next.
24 Suffrage was extended to women over 30 after the First World War in GB Suffrage was extended to women over 30 after the First World War in GB. In the United States, women were granted the right to vote by the 19th Amendment in 1920.Other social reforms began to take place: property rights, the role of women in the workplace, and access to education.
25 Literary CriticismWomen had a very narrow role in society; in some countries, they couldn’t even borrow money, nor could they own property. Middle- and upper-class women were generally educated at home if at all, and they were not prepared for careers.Literary critics tended to accept the status quo for women. When this play was published, it was regarded as quite a radical work because of the inversion of social order that occurs in the play.
26 Feminist critics, beginning in the 1970s, have argued for a reexamination of such works with the goal of gaining insights into the evolving role of women and understanding how both women and men have used women in literature to further certain points of view.Ibsen demands close study for his use of women as protagonists and fully formed characters. Ibsen’s female characters were intended to drive home the point that no society can flourish if half its members are in bondage. Nora’s character is designed to advance the argument that women be full participants in society. A woman can be a better wife and mother if she is fully actualized—meaning, if her own intellectual and emotional needs are met in the process.