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Four Major Plays 1: A Doll House / The Wild Duck / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,240 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Four Major Plays
Volume I

A Doll House
The Wild Duck
Hedda Gabler
The Master Builder

Among the greatest and best known of Ibsen’s works, these four plays brilliantly exemplify his landmark contributions to the theater: his realistic dialogue, probing of social problems, and depiction of characters’ inner lives as well as their actions. Rich in symbolism and often autobiographica
paper, 432 pages
Published June 6th 2006 by Signet (first published 1940)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,061)
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Jun 04, 2014 Dania rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charming endeavour into the triumphant journey of a woman by the name of Nora, who is finally breaking free from the binds of a ridiculously suppressive and degrading husband. It brings to light an alternative perspective, as it is set in Norway, unlike the "common" feminist accounts of Sylvia Plath and the like. This read is filled to the brim with literary wonders and offers a wide array of themes, many even more relevant today. Particularly in today's America, we see more than ever the divi ...more
Meghan C.
Aug 21, 2014 Meghan C. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
I don't know if I'm equipped to talk about plays in the same way I feel capable of opining on fiction. But I know what I like and what I don't, and these plays fall somewhere in between. I've seen a lot of other people approach this collection in a play by play review, and I think parsing these tales out from one another makes a certain amount of sense. So my more exacting star reviews are:

A Doll's House - 3 stars
The Wild Duck - 3 stars
Hedda Gabler - 4 stars
The Master Builder - 2.5 stars

Things I
Greg Brozeit
Jun 29, 2015 Greg Brozeit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Social status, deep secrets and what people think about themselves and others are at the heart of these four celebrated plays. Ibsen, as well as any writer, peels away the layers of personas people choose to create about them to reveal the essence of motives and the eternal truths that mold us. Although these plays are set in nineteenth century Norwegian society, they are universal and timeless. Rather than describe the plays in this volume, I’d rather sum them up with a quote taken from each:

Mar 02, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
"A Doll's House": Nora is a wonderful, playful, distressed creature and I adore her. I had no idea what to expect from this piece; I had heard of Ibsen's "A Doll's House" of course, but I didn't know the plotline at all. I was pleasantly surprised. A short piece, but brimming.

"The Wild Duck": I didn't like Gregers, the meddling idiot. But I guess it means something that Ibsen was able to write a character that draws a response.

"Hedda Gabler": I...did not understand this play. Hedda is a sort of
Tina Le
Jan 11, 2015 Tina Le rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
I only read the first play in this book, A DollHouse, but i really like how at the end, nora takes matters into her own hands. I also really found intresting Nora's manner of reaction to when Torvald finds out about the debt and when the debt is recalled. She had this whole fantasy played out into her mind, and when it finally plays out it isn't what she imagined. So she decides to take off the metaphorical shades she's had on and see her situation for what it is. She also decides to go away to ...more
May 02, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: default
Ibsen is a genius. A wild, brooding, disruptive genius. His was a mind that somehow saw beyond the social constraints of 19th century Europe and examined the human condition raw. If he had not been a playwright, he should have been a philosopher or a prophet.

These four plays--rightfully among his most well-known--capture his attention to detail, his insights into human emotion, and his terrifying ability to strip away pretence and compel uncomfortable introspection about the lies, visions, and h
Nov 11, 2014 LG rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: taught
I’ve only read two of these plays: Hedda Gabler as a student and A Doll House multiple times as a teacher. Of the two protagonists, I prefer the older, tougher, much more wrecked and destructive Hedda, often considered a counterpart to Hamlet in the sense of a career-defining role. By many accounts, Hedda’s story is less interesting to read than Nora’s, but after you’ve mimed her final scene in drama class to great acclaim from your teacher, it’s hard to forget Hedda.

Nora, in contrast, is not a
Ugh. Again, don't know how many stars to give. I really liked the four of them although by the end I was growing a bit weary as the plots have some similitudes. Basically, the author introduces you to a 'normal' environment, usually a family, but you soon notice that things cringe a bit. And then arrives a disruptive element/character, who is usually a bit weird. I especially liked the first and second plays. The first because it's the story of how a women evolves from being a 'doll' (i.e. someo ...more
Feb 16, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama-and-plays
I bought my first book of Ibsen’s four plays from a book fair in high school. I had heard of him, of course, but had no idea what he was about. Quickly I became spoiled by what I now know are great plays. My only mistake came in the respect that I always believed there would be great playwrights like Ibsen and O'Neill.
I never thought of a Doll’s House as a feminist play, yet it is remarkable in its ability to become an individualist’s play. It isn’t so much that this is about a woman who walks
Evan Sandman
Jul 15, 2009 Evan Sandman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All four plays are about terrible marriages--Honeymoon irony! Convinced me that I must write something about a GOOD marriage. Collection includes:

a. The Wild Duck--A favorite. Moralist Gregers Werle wanders back into the Ekdal family bearing destructive but liberating truth about the Ekdals’ shaky marriage. Dark Dr. Relling opposes him with his conviction that sad folks survive only with the power of self-affirming illusion. Who will win in the end? Destructive truth of course--duh! It’s Ibsen.

Dec 27, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Ibsen is ridiculously good at writing. Every character he creates has motive for their actions, and half of them you can't help hate from first sight because of how disgustingly prideful, scornful or dumb they are. Yet the wonderful thing about Ibsen is that in less than 100 pages and about four acts your perception of a character will utterly change.
Ibsen writes what is called the problem play, a convention of writing he created based on the "well-made play." Ibsen thus created a landing for m
Dec 29, 2011 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre
Pretty good. All of the plays have thematic elements that are similar to one another, most notably that of females threatening established patriarchy, and they stand as a good introduction to Ibsen. I must also say that the Fjelde translations are, seemingly, excellent.

**A Doll House – 3 stars – Very feminist ending, which itself is surprising and a bit frightening from a male perspective. Interesting to note that Ibsen changed the ending for his contemporary audience (this edition keeps the ori
Oct 05, 2012 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably my 4 favorite plays by Ibsen. I haven't read Ibsen since high school, but I just loved him back then and I have 6 books of plays on my shelves, so I have decided to pull all my books and re-read 1 play each night, this month. This was a great start and it reminded of all the reasons I claimed him as my favorite author during my college interviews. A Dolls House and Hedda Gabler are most likely the 2 better know of this group, but don’t skip The Master Builder or The Wild Duck, they are ...more
Steven Van Neste
If there is one central theme running through most of Ibsen’s work, it has to be the idea of scheming; in all four plays in this volume we find this idea strongly expressed and as such Ibsen’s work is definite foreshadowing of much later post-phenomenology a la Levinas and Derrida. The work of Ibsen is tragedy in the grandest sense of the word and thus he reinforces a stream of though similar to that of Sophocles, that the more we try and master reality, the more we become lost in it; the elemen ...more
Jun 25, 2008 Brenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes great literature
A newly married couple return home from their six month honeymoon. Hedda, the new bride, is restless and disatisfied. As the play evolves, Hedda's desire for a life bigger than her own spirals into tragedy.

I've read this before and I've always loved what a bitch Hedda is. I love that she let's slip her little irritations, her real opinions about the smallness of life around her. And yet, that is all she can do - complain about her grievances. Because underneath it all, she is a coward, unable to
Lisa Feld
The problem with a collection of plays is that the rating for each may be vastly different. The standout for me here was A Doll's House, which is even better than I had remembered. But the other three plays just didn't work for me; they all seemed to center around characters who were unhappy because of their own choices and lack of daring, who decide to ruin the lives of everyone around them to make themselves feel better, culminating in a suicide to try and generate some audience sympathy. It w ...more
Mar 28, 2010 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: script, own
Unhappy marriages, ill-advised scheming, unfulfilled expectations, and female characters well ahead of their (and Ibsen's) time drive all four of these plays. Hedda Gabler and A Doll House were my favorites by far; Hedda and Nora are far from likable, but their power, their dawning awareness, and their final scenes are stunning. The Master Builder treats the same themes but injects an extra dose of insanity into its characters and the play as a whole (not in a good way) and The Wild Duck is clev ...more
Gregory Knapp
Apr 30, 2016 Gregory Knapp rated it it was amazing
Hedda Gabler : Saw this amazing production last night (2/6/14) in Glencoe (yes, Glencoe).

Show runs into early April '14.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to anyone in Chicagoland.

A Doll House : To discover Ibsen when you are 50 is rather amazing. Certainly to discover him at any age must be amazing. I will not bore you with my schoolgirlish glee but instead adopt the stern demeanor of Lovborg and say that anyone who considers herself to be literate -- to be immersed
May 31, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to reread A Doll House and definitely found it more compelling now than I did back in high school. Ibsen's plays generally follow the same sort of theme, playing with public perception vs. private turmoil which can get a bit exhausting if you read them all at once. I have to say that out of these four, I liked Hedda Gabler the most--I feel like the character relationships were much more fleshed out than any of the others.
Apr 29, 2014 mika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved A Doll House, wish I could see the play it in person! The characters were well thought out and I just enjoyed how it turned out. I hope to read more from Henrik Ibsen in the future and see some of his plays acted out.
The four plays in this book all deal with marital strife. This is a common theme of Ibsen's work so that is to be expected.

My favourite of the four plays is "Enemy of the People," a play about Dr. Stockmann trying to do what he thinks is good for the people set against his brother, Mayor Stockmann, who is trying to do what he thinks is good for the people. It's a story driven by hidden agendas where even if someone is right, the audience doesn't particularly care for them because of their person
Feb 16, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read many plays except what we read in HS English class, and I am pretty sure I hated everything we ever read then! But after reading Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest for bookgroup this month I decided to try the Ibsen I've had om my shelf...

I started with Hedda Gabler, since it seemed the one I've heard of the most. I am amazed at how much information is portrayed in a play. Especially how much characterization, social commentary, etc can be built in such a short work wit
Sep 10, 2016 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Doll's House is great, The Wild Duck at least interesting, I didn't really get into The Master Builder and I don't like Hedda Gabler. The title character has a weird mixture of naiveté and deviousness.
Harrison Teich
skipped doll house ;)
Winter Sophia Rose
Fascinating & Compelling!
Feb 12, 2013 علی rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
آثار نمایشی هنریک ایبسن مانند زندگی اش پر از فراز و نشیب اند. برخی منتقدان او را به راستی ستوده اند و برخی هرگز آثارش را نپسندیدند. ایبسن به معنایی که دکتر امیر حسین آریانپور در کتاب "ایبسن آشوب گرای" نوشته، چه در زندگی و چه در آثارش یک آنارشیست جلوه می کند. با وجودی که گفته اند از شکسپیر به این سو دوران تراژدی بسر آمده، برخی از منتقدان بر این اعتقاداند که ایبسن تنها نمایش نامه نویسی ست که برخی از آثارش مانند اشباح و هداگابلر به تراژدی به معنای ارسطویی و شکسپیری آن نزدیک است.
Nancy Chantraine
Feb 16, 2012 Nancy Chantraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Katie

Classic, profound, ground-breaking for their time and bearing crucial messages for all time. Superb realizations of human dilemmas. A philosophy of compassion and a message that the unexamined life can have tragic consequences -

The Wild Duck - tragedy - catharsis - A young, pure life is lost because of tragic flaws in other persons . . . There is contrast between untried idealism and blundering hubris -

A supremely wise and compelling collection of plays.
Feb 02, 2008 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ibsen is another writer I randomly picked up in college and have liked ever since. Amazon people recommend the McFarlane/Arup translation as the best, which has Ghosts rather than The Wild Duck. I'm not sure I read Master Builder, and I'll have to read Ghosts, but the other three made a lasting impression. Ibsen's not light, but he's easy to read and straightforward. Proto-feminism written by a guy? - I guess it's something like that and more.
Jul 30, 2013 Maritza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We were made to read "A Doll's House" for my senior lit class and-- I won't deny instantly loving the play. I bought this copy and finished the rest of the plays that were in it and have concluded that Ibsen is possibly my favorite play writer at the moment. No matter if that changes, I know that "A Doll's House" will continue to be one of my top five favorite plays ever written.
Jul 11, 2012 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A Doll House" is still my favorite. It is a powerful play and was revolutionary and shocking in its time . . . I would add that it still addresses relevant issues of females being in charge of financial matters—or at least jointly participating—in their families.

I didn't like "The Wild Duck" as much. "Hedda Gabler" was fun and "The Master Builder" was just plain weird.
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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
More about Henrik Ibsen...

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