Henrik Ibsen – a Famous Norwegian Playwright

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

Henrik Ibsen is a Norwegian playwright most famous for his plays ‘a doll’s house’ and ‘hedda gabler’ among many others. Henrik Ibsen was born on March 20, 1828 in Norway. Henrik grew up in the town of Skein; the oldest of five children. The family became poor when Henrik was 8 due to problems in his fathers business. The family moved to a rundown farm near the town. At 15, Ibsen stopped going to school and went to work. He gained a position as an apprentice in an apothecary where he worked for six years. In his spare time he wrote poetry and painted. In 1849, he wrote his first play ‘Catalina’, written in verse and inspired by one of his influences, William Shakespeare.

Ibsen moved to Oslo in 1850 to study at the University of Christiania. During his time in Oslo, he made friends with writers and artistic types. One of his friends, Ole Schulerud, paid for Ibsen’s first play Catalina, which failed to get much notice. In 1851, Ibsen met violinist and theatre manager Ole Bull. Bull offered him a job as a writer and manager for the Norwegian theatre. In 1857, Ibsen returned to Christiania to run another theatre. This became a frustrating job for him, with people claiming he mismanaged the theatre and calling for his resignation. Despite this, Ibsen found time to write ‘loves marriage’ in 1862.

Ibsen left Norway in 1862 and settled in Italy for some years. There he wrote ‘brand’, a tragedy about a clergyman whose devotion to his faith costs him his family and his life. Two years later, Ibsen created ‘peer gynt’. It was a modern take on Greek epics of the past. In 1868, Ibsen moved to Germany. During his time there, his social drama ‘The Pillars of Society’ performed in Munich. The play was the launching of his career and was soon followed by one of his most famous works,‘A Doll’s House’. The play explored Nora’s struggle with the traditional roles of wives and mothers and her own need for freedom. Ibsen questioned the accepted social judgements of the time, causing uproar. In the first showing of the play, the ending had to be changed. Around this time, he returned to Rome.

His next work ‘Ghosts’, stirred up more controversy by tackling topics like incest. The uproar was so strong that the play wasn’t performed widely until two years after. Ibsen wrote ‘The Lady From the Sea’ and then headed back to Norway soon after, where he would spend his remaining years. One of his most famous works, ‘hedda gabler’, was to follow. Ibsen created one of theatres most notorious characters. Hedda, a general’s daughter, is a newlywed who has started to hate her husband. Despite this, she destroys a former lover who stands in her husband’s way.

In 1891, Ibsen returned back to Norway where he continued to write more plays tha had more self reflective qualities. In 1899, he wrote his final play, ‘when we dead awaken’. It is about an old sculptor running into one of his former models and trying to find his lost creative spark. In 1900, he had a series of strokes that left him unable to write. He lived for several more years until he died on May 23, 1906.

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