Here, in a single volume, are four major plays by the first modern playwright, Henrick Ibsen. "Ghosts -the startling portrayal of a family destroyed by disease and infidelity. "The Wild Duck — A poignant drama of lost illusions. "An Enemy Of The People — Ibsen's vigorous attack on public opinion. And "A Doll's House — the play that scandalized the Victorian world with its unsparing views of love and marriage, featuring one of the most controversial heroines — and one of the most famous exists — in the literature of the stage.
Here, in a single volume, are four major plays by the first modern playwright, Henrick Ibsen. "Ghosts" -the startling portrayal of a family destroyed by disease and infidelity. "The Wild Duck" -- A poignant drama of lost illusions. "An Enemy Of The People" -- Ibsen's vigorous attack on public opinion. And "A Doll's House" -- the play that scandalized the Victorian world with its unsparing views of love and marriage, featuring one of the most controversial heroines -- and one of the most famous exists -- in the literature of the stage.
Here, in a single volume, are four major plays by the first modern playwright, Henrik Ibsen. Ghosts-the startling portrayal of a family destroyed by disease and infidelity. The Wild Duck- a poignant drama of lost illusions. An Enemy of the People-Ibsen's vigorous attack on public opinion. And A Doll's House-the play that scandalized the Victorian world with its unsparing views of love and marriage, featuring one of the most controversial heroines-and one of the most famous exits-in the literature of the stage. Although Ibsen outraged many of his contemporaries, he persisted: he shocked the unthinking into thinking and blasted through the thick fog of convention to the restless human passions hidden underneath. Today his plays remain masterpieces of psychological insight and theatrical power.
Ibsen was a playwright and poet. He worked at theatres in Bergen and Kristiania. He later went into voluntary exile after his theatre went bankrupt. He suffered a stroke in 1900 which ended his literary career.
A DOLL''S HOUSE A Doll''s House was not the first of Ibsen''s plays to make enemies for him; but it was the first to spread his reputation as a subversive playwright abroad, and arouse enmity toward him in foreign lands. Ibsen''s subject was no longer local politics, as in the earlier Love''s Comedy , but the miseducation and subjugation of the European middle-class woman. It is difficult to overestimate the significance, and, indeed, the novelty of such a theme for Victorian readers and audiences. Although A Doll''s House no longer arouses such burning topical interest, it remains a vital drama of character. Ibsen''s strong-willed heroine, Nora, is no mere case history in a suffragette bill of particulars. Far from being a typical victim of male domination, Nora is master of the domestic world she calls her doll''s house. She has the initiative to nurse her husband through a long illness, the courage to forge his name to a promissory note in order to get the money for his convalescence, and she is even able, in the face of enormous difficulties, to meet the payments on her loan. Only when a disgruntled employee of her husband''s bank tries to blackmail Nora''s husband into restoring him to the job from which he has been fired is Nora''s deception revealed. The play''s turning point is based far less on Nora''s supposed innocence of the realities of the world than on her husband''s understandable fear of scandal in their provincial bourgeois world. Because her notion that marriage could protect her from all eventualities is shattered, and because she had romantically expected heroic sacrifices from him, Nora resolves to find some basis for her marriage other than bourgeois convention and girlish romanticism: she decides to leave her "doll''s house" to seek independence in the "outside world." Although her example might be cited as an object lesson by feminists, Ibsen took great pains to make her disenchantment and climactic decision the result of her unique personal character and experience. At the very end of the play Ibsen is forced to push his argument very hard to convince us that Nora really believes she can leave her young children behind when she deserts her husband. But precisely this drastic conclusion, no matter how it stretches credibility, has secured polemical importance for the play. As George Bernard Shaw concluded in The Quintessence of Ibsenism , the most original part of the play was the discussion Nora initiated once the threat of prosecution for forgery was completely removed by the blackmailer''s repentance. In a conventional "well-made" drama, Torvald''s eagerness to forget the entire unpleasant crisis would have been followed by a quick reconciliation and an unclouded denouement. In rejecting such a conventional climax, Ibsen was transcending Scribe and the nineteenth-century commercial theatre. At the same time, he was trying to ground his play in the psychological realities of human character, in the tradition of such great masters of nineteenth-century realism as Balzac, Flaubert and Turgenev, rather than in mere theatrical contrivance. Finally, Ibsen wanted to advance the cause of "the drama of ideas," which he had already begun to promote in such early, more romantic, plays as Brand, Peer Gynt and Emperor and Galilean, and to root it firmly in the everyday social and domestic middle-class world of Europe. That Ibsen himself seems to have been uncertain about the validity of his unconventional climax was revealed when he permitted a German production of A Doll''s House to revise the ending and to show Nora remaining with her husband. A Doll''s House was completed and published late in 1879. It was so successful that it had to be reprinted twice within three months of publication. Translations followed in German, Finnish, English, Polish, Russian and Italian. The play was successfully presented in Copenhagen in the same year of publication, and then in Stockholm and Christiania (Oslo). In March of the same year the play had its German premiere in Munich. The first public production in England was entitled Breaking a Butterfly , and was presented in London in March 1884. According to Ibsen''s early advocate and translator, William Archer, this severely mangled adaptation presented the husband as "an ideal hero, instead of the sensual, self-righteous weakling of Ibsen." The first acceptable British production, which starred Janet Achurch, came much later, in June 1889. It was repeated by the same actress in 1892. The first American production was presented in Milwaukee in 1882 in an adaptation entitled The Child Wife . Not until 1889 did Americans see an unadulterated version of the play. Ultimately, with the exception of Ghosts, Ibsen''s A Doll''s House became the most frequently performed of his plays in England and the United States. DRAMATIS PERSON
The 4 plays included in this collection are A Doll's House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, and The Wild Duck.
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