Henrik Ibsen

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Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen was born at Skien in Norway on March 20, 1828. When he was

eight, his father went bankrupt. This event made a deep impression upon

him. After they went bankrupt, his family moved to a small farm north

of the town where they lived in poverty. Henrik was forced to attend a

small local school. He received a substandard education. In 1843, the

family returned to town. Unfortunately they were still poor. Ibsen came

from a very dysfunctional family. His domineering father was an

alcoholic who found solace in alcohol. His quiet mother found comfort

in religion. He used them as a model for his plays. The blend of an

overbearing husband and a submissive wife made appearances in his

plays Brand, A Doll's House, and Ghosts. The bitter character of

Hjalmar Ekdal in The Wild Duck was based on Ibsen's father. When he

was sixteen, he moved to Grimstad to work for a druggist. He had

wanted to become a doctor, but game up on the idea after he failed

Greek and Math on his! University entrance exams. Medicine was not his

only ambition. He also wanted to be a painter.

In 1850, Ibsen entered the first of his three writing periods. His

romantic period went from 1850 to 1873. The greatest works from this

period are the Brandand Peer Gynt Most of the plays that he wrote

during these years are romantic historical dramas. Lady Inger of

Ostraat was a romantic drama with intrigue. The Vikings of Helgeland

was a simple and sad tragedy. The last play of the Romantic period was

Emperor and

Galilean. It is similar to Ibsen's other play Catiline because it

showed his impatience with traditional attitudes and values. In both

plays he showed sympathy for historical characters who were famous for

being rebellious.

Ibsen became the stage manager and playwright of the National Stage in

Bergen in 1851. He worked there for six years. In 1857, he moved to

Christiania (Oslo), where he became director of the Norwegian Theatre.

He neglected both writing and the theatre. He plunged into social life

with his literary friends and drank heavily. In 1858, Ibsen married

Suzannah Thoresen, with whom he had one child, Sigurd Ibsen. This was a

marriage that was often as misunderstood as the marriages of Ibsen's

dramas. At the age of thirty, Ibsen saw his first performances of

Shakespeare in Copenhagen and Dresden. Shakespeare's work convinced

Ibsen that serious drama must strive toward a psychological truth and

form its basis on the characters and conflicts of mankind. Ibsen and
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