A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen

A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen

A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen

A Study of Six Plays by Ibsen


I have chosen the six plays by Ibsen which between them seem to me to illustrate best the various facets of his art and mind. Love's Comedy, a fairly early work, shows what comedy and open satire became under his hands. The dramatic poems Brand and Peer Gynt, vast and complementary, could not be omitted from any study such as I have undertaken, since--apart from the mastery of the verse-form which they have in common with Love's Comedy--they give the most perfect idea of what the poet conceived as man's duty and destiny. For a typical example of Ibsen's social plays, the quartette in which a prime concern was to submit to debate acute problems of his day, I have selected A Doll's House. The Wild Duck inescapably raises the question of the author's use of symbols, which must always interest even when it is no longer thought to have the overriding importance once attached to it. After some hesitation The Master Builder (rather than When We Dead Awaken) was taken to exemplify the autobiographical strain in almost everything Ibsen wrote.

Besides examining these matters I have endeavoured to collect the relevant material, bearing for the most part on the genesis of the dramas, which different kinds of reader may find helpful to their fuller appreciation.

To avoid misunderstanding I should perhaps add that I would not have selected any or all of these plays had they not, in my belief, been works of art of the greatest power and importance.

Except where otherwise stated, Ibsen's writings are quoted, by volume and page only, from the Standardutgave of his Samlede Digter Verker (7 volumes, Christiania, 1918) and, prefaced by the word 'Archer', from the English Collected Works of Henrik Ibsen (edited by William Archer, 12 volumes, London, 1907-12); my thanks are due to Messrs Gyldendal and Messrs Heinemann for permission to do so.

B. W. D.

Cambridge December 1947 . . .

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