Henrik Ibsen: Themes and Ideas

24 May

Known as the “Father of Drama” (“Henrik Ibsen.” Moonstruck Drama Bookstore), playwright Henrik Ibsen has produced many plays, which as a whole represent the evolution of drama. Ibsen’s writing life can be broken down into different periods. In his early days of writing, his plays were more open and romanticized. Initially, his plays were even tinged with a bit of depression, of which can be seen in the plays A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler. This is because Ibsen had endured a “dark” phase, going through depression and even thoughts of suicide. His work then started to become more comical and favorable by audiences. He especially applied mysticism to a lot of his works and his characters were often rebels, as can be seen in Brand and Peer Grynt.

Ibsen then started to adapt his themes, concentrating them more on Man vs. Society. At this point, he had left romanticism aside and started focusing on the political and social problems of society. His works started depicting more elements of realism, and he became known as a naturalistic, even political playwright. He gave the medium of drama substance, dragging it out of its superficial entertainment purposes, and his own opinions of society leaked into his work. Ibsen applied what was called the “principle of uncertainty”, in which dramatic monologues, and consequently, characters’ thoughts were less exposed, thrusting the audience upon their feet and forcing them to develop their own interpretations.

By this time, his work had begun receiving a lot of criticism and controversy, for he was revealing aspects of society that were not meant to be revealed. During a period of time that he called the “Golden Age”, he had reached the peak of his societal influence. During this time, he produced plays such as A Doll’s House, Ghosts and Hedda Gabler. A Doll’s House had a feministic focus and criticized gender roles in Victorian marriages. Other themes include women’s suffrage, religious intolerance (responded to by Oeuvre), class struggle and stereotypes. Ibsen’s characters were faced with self-realization and portrayed the clash between the individual and societal pressures.

Ibsen had repeatedly changed and experimented with different ideas in plays. His application of realism was even adopted by others, such as Chekhov. He had completely changed the structure of dramatic techniques, paving the way for modern drama.
“Henrik Ibsen.” Imagi-nation.com. Web. 20 May 2011. <http://www.imagi-nation.com/moonstruck/clsc5.htm&gt;.

“Henrik Ibsen.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2010): 1. MAS Ultra – School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 24 May 2011.

Esslin, Martin. “Ibsen and Modern Drama.” DISCovering Authors. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. 24 May 2011.


One Response to “Henrik Ibsen: Themes and Ideas”


  1. Ibsen Links | Mr Moore's Drama Blog - April 16, 2014

    […] Short blog post about his ideas […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: