Existentialist traits in works of Henrik Ibsen

Essay by seapearlB, March 2005

download word file, 6 pages 3.0

Downloaded 35 times

Existentialism is a major twentieth century continental European philosophical movement. The label was inspired by the tendency of some of the writers like Kierkegaard, Heidegger , Sartre and Nietzsche to use the term "existence" for a kind of being or life unique, in their view, to human beings. Only in the case of human beings is the conduct of their life an "issue" for them; only they can "stand out" - exstare, the Latin word from which "exist" comes - from their lives and reflect upon them; and only they have the capacity freely to shape their lives. Though Existentialism can appear in a number of different forms, the focal point as Jean Paul Sartre puts it is "existence precedes essence". The existentialists are of the view that as there is not pre-determined course of human life, they are only what they make themselves. This gives human beings a freedom to choose.

Human beings have to make choices or are rather "condemned " to make choices and bear their consequences. Every act is conscious and so all the responsibility falls on their shoulders with no one to rely on and thus give rise to feelings of despair and anxiety. All of which had been sensitively explored earlier in the century by such literary figures as Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) and Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and can seen to be already an abiding concern in the works of Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906).

The Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen a was an advocator of individualism and was against the social norms which shape the lives of human beings. His characters live themselves out in the spirit of reckless and vehement self-assertion - superman and superwomen. Ibsen was a believer in freedom to will. Many of his characters can be seen in this light who reject to...