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The Master Builder

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,831 ratings  ·  70 reviews
One of the Norwegian playwright's most mysterious, symbolic, and lyrical dramas explores the life of architect Halvard Solness, once ruthlessly ambitious, but who, in his later years, not only feels threatened by the younger generation but also fears the decay of his own creativity. A tragic end for one of the most fascinating characters in modern drama.
Paperback, Thrift Editions, 64 pages
Published August 20th 2001 by Dover Publications (first published December 1892)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,990)
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Connie
Halvard Solness is an important architect in Norway. Part of his success is due to the misfortunes of others, and his former rival, Knut Brovik, now works for Solness. Knut's son, Ragnar, is working as Solness' draftsman, and has not been given the opportunity to use his talents as an architect. Solness is also having an affair with Ragnar's fiance, giving Solness a controlling position. It seems like a fable when Solness is convinced that if he wants something badly, he only has to wish for it ...more
Maryam Shahriari
خوشحالم که در سرچ کتابهای معماری به این نمایشنامه برخوردم و بعد هم توانستم در کتابخانهای که عضوش هستم پیدا کنم و بخوانمش.

معماری از آن دسته شغلهاست که چون با آدمی و خواستههایش سر و کار دارد، میتواند توسط همه قشر از افراد جامعه با تخصصهای مختلف مورد بحث قرار بگیرد. این که به دنیای تفکرات معمارانه و آن چه که باعث خالق و ساختشان میشود از دید یک نمایشنامهنویس نگاه شده باشد، برای من جذاب و لذتبخش بود.

هالوارد سولنس شخصیت اول این نمایشنامه استاد معماری است که در سنین میانسالی به سر میبرد و ترس بزرگش نسل
...more
Isotilia
I loved the play 'The Master Builder', I don't know why. It represents the eternal conflict between generations, the new sucessor to the old, human tragedies, sanity and insanity. I'm impressed how all talented authors around the world (even from so distant countries as Norway)express the same mystical, transcedental feeling. Artists have the ability to express these human common unexplanable feelings in an understandable way for their culture and their time. 'The Master Builder' is exactly this ...more
Daria
I think this play and Hedda Gabler are my two Ibsen faves so far. I'm getting the impression that his two beloved drama topics are a) spouses lying to each other and b) crazy people. Give him one, two, three insane characters - heck, let's make the whole cast slightly deranged, why not? - and he can give you a strange and disturbing play which is nevertheless very realistic.

I get it, Ibsen. You're trying to prove we're all mad people at heart. *Hides face in hands*
Chiek Er
A Vikings spirit and a robust conscience

Another brilliant play by Ibsen. Next to The Wild Duck, this is my favourite Ibsens play so far. I liked it more than Ghosts and Peer Gynt because of the intense theme behind it. A man with a Vikings spirit and a robust conscience will do things as he pleases and without remorse even if others suffer for his actions. He is an amoral hedonistic man and a menace to his family and to society at large. In some ways, this play reminds me of Dostoyevskys Crime a
...more
Andrea Lakly
From "A Doll's House" and "Enemy of the People" I thought Ibsen was a trail blazer for creating straightforward (maybe simplistic) works about topics people didn't talk about honestly. This fascinating play complicates and deepens my vision of him. It's about art, yes, but also about youth, age, desire, and knowing yourself. Hilda is fascinating -- an expression of Solness' ego made seductive feminine flesh.
Dave
I suppose I could say this largely concerns generational conflict - the old and powerful v. the idealistic youth. But I think it is more about the insecurities of the old and powerful. Insecure about how power was achieved (luck? divine providence?). Insecure about deserving of power. Insecure about the youthful idealism they are surrounded by. After all, we see in the end what happens to the Solness when he tries to live up to the ideals of the young.

Book 1 of P.G./Andrea 2015 assignments.
Sujeet
This has got to be the best of Ibsen's plays that I have read.
Love. Treachery. Betrayal. Ambition. Fear. Fantasy. Insanity. Remorse. Hedonism. Redemption. Retribution. - All there.

If you are not a feminist, probably, this is the first play you should attempt of Ibsen.
...more
Realini
The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen
Wonderful

This is an excellent play that seems to fit the paradigm described by Somerset Maugham, in one of his books.
In his fabulous autobiography- The Summing Up, Maugham is a bit harsh with Ibsen, GB Shaw and a few others.
The plays of Ibsen, in Maugham’s view, follow a simplistic pattern:
- Somebody comes in the middle of the play and opens the windows, letting air in
Maugham wrote that both Ibsen and Shaw have benefited from a fashion and some issues that were
...more
Daniel
All of my unemployed friends began to volunteer

- or -

That is not an answer that I can accept

I think it was my English teacher that once advised me "A claustrophobic commentary, uniformly doomy, can be magnificently memorable provided perfectly complementary tight, tense, terse rhythms are reproducible and rarely retracted by way of restraint and understatement within this glorious game."

I ignored her advice and continue to be, still, a wallflower RE: the human journey.

Wallflower or not, I use
...more
Matthew
With The Master Builder, we have a play that hardly justifies its place in the canon of Ibsen's 'realist' plays. True, the characters have motivations based in psychology, and there are no magical elements to the play. Indeed, even the hero's suggestion that he achieves things by willing them could be his imagination, or a symptom of madness, as his wife fears.

However, the behaviour of the characters and the meaning of their action seem to have little basis in reality. Also the play seems to str
...more
Rich Law
This is the strangest of the (four) Ibsen plays I've read. It seems more like a fable than the ultra-realism you see in a Doll's House. Nevertheless, it's pretty powerful stuff.

The main themes I took away from this were fear and it how causes people to manipulate others. Not only that but I think every single character has the threat of abandonment hanging over their head the whole time. So it's typically cheerful Ibsen.

The real triumph, I think, is Ibsen's characterisation of Aline Solness, the
...more
Ben
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christy
This is an easy, light read. Enjoyable and maintained my attention to the very last sentence. As for the story line, its kind of sad to think that a talented man and his sweet wife are unable to move on from the past. God has so much more for us and "greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world". The Master Builder did not need to be tormented by the "devils" in life. The belief that for one to be blessed, someone else must have misfortune is what made him weak. Sad.
Mel
I've only seen one Isben play and really liked it. This was quite interesting. It was a long discussion between an older man and a younger girl, but she wasn't there simply as a pixie dream girl, but was kinda there to get something for herself. The language was interesting and the characters quite good, but there was no real plot. The conflict in print felt a bit dry and pointless. Why was the young girl so keen on getting the guy to build another tall building and how could it have ended any w ...more
Leslie
This play is from the end of Ibsen's career and there is a clear difference in style and content from the earlier plays. I have appreciated his wit and social commentary but that was lacking in this play. Instead, there is a possibly mad builder and his relationship with God... If that sounds interesting, you will probably like this.
Jc Er
An amoral man living the hedonistic life. He sleeps well at night even he has sacrifised his twin sons to furhter his ambitions. Such a man is described to have a vikings spirit and a robust conscience. Another fantastic Ibsens play which I read cover to cover in one take on a boxing day afternoon. Extremely engaging and thought provoking. Reminds me of Dostoyevskys crime and punishment where Raskolnikov would cross the line commit the crime. Fortunately, Raskolnikov did not have a robust consci ...more
Mike Jensen
Ibsen’s masterpiece is about an old man clinging to youth with disastrous results for himself and others. Do not use this Dover Thrift Edition with its dated translation and inadequate introduction and apparatus. Look for the Penguin or Michael Myers translations instead.
Rolls
Another brutally frank portrait of a self obsessed man in his later years. Soleness is on par with Lear with a mind teetering towards the brink of madness. Teetering is an apt word given Soleness' sad end. Beautiful.
أحمد صــــلاح
لم أكن أعرف أن المسرح يمكن أن"
يصل إلى هذه الدرجة من الجمال والحبكة الرائعة
نحن نظلم المسرح كثيرا
"حين نفضل عليه الروايات
هذا ما دار برأسي الصغير
بعد ان قرأت هذه التحفة من المسرح
Steven
A meditation on obsession and perfection.
Sarah
It's very odd to see a recycled character from another play show up in another play. In The Master Builder, there is a loose tie-in to The Lady from the Sea, using one of the daughters from the earlier work as a now-mature but quite crazy individual. Other elements of the play make it a little more odd than most Ibsen plays (and that's saying a lot, to be frank). To me, it borders on being creepy and straight-up pedophilic, but I can't say that this is the only creepy Ibsen play I've ever read. ...more
Zadignose
Help! Save me from having read this play! My brain is broken, and I don't know what to say. Claptrap! I think... or is it... aarghh...

Dare I condemn theater for being too theatrical?

A few days of distance from this, and I keep thinking that this play is to theater what a TV Soap Opera like Passions is to cinema art.

Okay, I'm not really very familiar with that show, but the point is that this is what happens when medium/genre conventions become so wacky as to produce something entirely divorced
...more
Ashley
Dec 08, 2008 Ashley rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people reading major plays
It's probably mostly founded on the obvious architectural bond they share, but this play rings to me (as well as other reviewers I see) of The Fountainhead in terms of the hero, protagonist, the "Master Builder" himself, only here of course we see him doubtful, flawed, and ultimately fail; and on that note of the hero's demise it also takes me back to King Lear of the Steppes by Turgenev. Well written and interesting in its psychologies of character, (such as Mrs. Solsen's pain over her lost dol ...more
Perry Whitford
An aging architect named Halvard Solness manipulates the affections of a young secretary in order to retain the services of her fiance and his father. He fears that they will break away from him, fears the 'younger generation' in general, which is exacerbated when he is visited by an associate of his wife, a twenty two year old woman called Hilda Wangel.
But Halvard soon discovers that he and Hilda have a prior association too. Ten years ago, when she was a girl, he built a church tower in her ho
...more
Michael
I see these characters, despite the scene descriptions that indicate otherwise, talking in rooms with dirty, earthen walls bare of all ornament - the men and the women wearing drab wool sweaters and fine wrist watches. I guess maybe I'm just imposing my own perception of Scandinavian narrative art - mostly gleaned from Bergman films - on this play.

I don't suppose there's much to say about this relatively simple play. The plot and pacing remind me of a proto-Albee piece, where demons eat at ever
...more
علی
استاد معمار که همیشه در اندیشه ی ساختن خانه های مسکونی برای مردم بوده، از این که ناچار است مجتمع های اداری بسازد، سرخورده و دلگیر است. او طرحی بزرگ و نهایی برای یک خانه ی مسکونی دارد و معتقد است این طرح تنها برای آسایش و زندگی شیرین مردم تهیه شده. وقتی ایده ی خود را با شور و شوق با هیلده در میان می گذارد، زن به سادگی از او می پرسد چرا دست به کار نمی شود. معمار اعتراف می کند که طرحش آرمانی ست و هیچ کس طالب چنین طرح بزرگ و با شکوهی برای محل زندگی کردن نیست. هیلده او را تشویق می کند و استاد معمار ب ...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
بسام عبد العزيز
مسرحية اجتماعية أخرى لهنريك إبسن يناقش فيها الصراع بين القديم و الحديث..

لدينا المعماري الكبير المشهور.. عبقرية معمارية فذة. و لدينا المعماري الشاب الذي يعمل تحت إمرته...

يحاول المعماري الكبير أن يقتل الطموح داخل المعماري الشاب خوفا من أن ينجح الشاب و يتفوق على أستاذه.. و في سبيل هذا يقوم المعماري الكبير بعمل كل شيء و أي شيء حتى لو كان منافيا للاخلاق..

لم أشعر بأي تعاطف او ارتباط بأية شخصية في المسرحية.. شعرت بها مباشرة بشدة.. مثلها في هذا مثل بيت الدمية ..

في أحيان كثيرة شعرت أن الفكرة الأساسية
...more
Richard
Another classic Ibsen play. The master builder was struggling with associating his success with his abilities, preferring to attribute it instead to luck, and it seemed to conflict with his refusal to give up his title as the master builder. He was a confused person, uncertain about the motivation behind his work and fearful of the younger generation that would eventually crush him. Even though this lost character does not leave a good impression, I suppose many people experience a similar kind ...more
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Henrik Johan Ibsen was a major Norwegian playwright largely responsible for the rise of modern realistic drama. He is often referred to as the "father of modern drama." Ibsen is held to be the greatest of Norwegian authors and one of the most important playwrights of all time, celebrated as a national symbol by Norwegians.

His plays were considered scandalous to many of his era, when Victorian valu
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More about Henrik Ibsen...
A Doll's House Hedda Gabler Ghosts Four Major Plays: A Doll's House / Ghosts / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder An Enemy of the People

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“A talent for building children's souls, Hilde. So building their souls that they might grow straight and fine, nobly and beautifully formed, to their full human stature. That was where Aline's talent lay.” 5 likes
“But he got right to the top. And I heard harps in the air. My - my master builder!” 2 likes
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