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 his...