Henrik Ibsen's life

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Loyalty, duty, obligation. These are only some of the social

laws that Henrik Ibsen wrote out against in his later works. Ibsen believed

that these bourgeois beliefs were hindering the individual's, as well as the

nation's, realization of the self. To Ibsen, it was far more important to

have the freedom to express oneself than to adhere to outdated,

conventional ideas. In "A Doll House" and "Ghosts", both heroines are

forced to confront these social hindrances. Both women attempt to

overcome these powerful restraints in their attempts to find themselves,

one more successfully than the other.

"Ibsen's effect on his contemporaries and his influence on the

course of modern drama were immediate and profound".1 More than any

other dramatist, he gave theater a new vitality by bringing into European

bourgeois drama an ethical gravity, a psychological depth, and a social

significance which the theater had lacked since the days of Shakespeare.

For the better part of fifty years, Ibsen contributed to giving European

drama a vitality and artistic quality comparable to the ancient Greek

tragedies. This contribution to theatrical history gained for Ibsen the

reputation of being the greatest and most influential dramatist of his time.

He "gave the stage its first distinctively modern characters:

complex, contradictory individuals driven by a desire for something - the

'joy of life', a sense of themselves - that they can barely recognize or

name".2 His realistic contemporary drama was a continuation of the

European tradition of tragic plays.

In these plays he portrays ordinary middle class people of his

day. Routines, and schedules usually taken for granted, are suddenly

turned upside down as they are forced to confront a major crisis. Nora, in

"A Doll House", must finally confess to her husband that she borrowed

money illegally in a...