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Four Major Plays: A Doll's House / Ghosts / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,665 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Taken from the highly acclaimed Oxford Ibsen, this collection of Ibsen's plays includes A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, and The Master Builder.
Paperback, 370 pages
Published July 9th 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 1879)
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Barry Pierce
A Doll's House

There's a reason why this is one of the most performed plays in the world. It's just wonderful. I mean, who doesn't love that ending? It's so subversive (especially for the time). This is the best play in this collection.


I didn't really care for this one. It bored me. I understand its inclusion because of the slight parallels with A Doll's House but otherwise it isn't anything spectacular.

Hedda Gabler

I went into this book thinking that Hedda Gabler was going to be the one
Mar 27, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the 1980s BBC production of Ibsen's Ghosts, Judi Dench plays Mrs. Alving—that stiff-upper-lipped endurer of endless misfortune—as a sniping, often sarcastic adversary to self-righteous, simple-minded Pastor Manders (Michael Gambon), who arrives at her home to conduct business but also to needle her about her moral failings. I read the play immediately before watching the film, and I have to confess that wasn't at all how I pictured Mrs. Alving. Either because of my faltering skills of inferen ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
A Doll's House
Κοινωνική κριτική με βάση της τη δυναμική των ζευγαριών, τα χρήματα και τη δύναμη που φέρνουν, τη θέση της γυναίκας, τα καθήκοντα και οι υποχρεώσεις της απέναντι στην κοινωνία, αλλά και απέναντι στο σύζυγό της.


Με την παράλληλη ανάγνωση των Βρικολάκων και του Κουκλόσπιτου οι ομοιότητες ήταν περισσότερο πρόδηλες, τα μοτίβα συνεχίζονται· τόσο η αντιμετώπιση από την πλευρά της γυναίκας των ηθών της πατριαρχικής κοινωνίας όσο και η απεικόνιση των ρόλων που η ίδια η κοινωνία υποβά
Jan 02, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
Holy crap, Ibsen is good. I read Hedda Gabler and Doll's House from this collection. Both feature strong female protagonists who are dissatisfied with the lives they feel trapped in. Both women insist on making something remarkable happen in their mundane worlds; Ibsen wants to remind us that extraordinary things can happen even in the most ordinary of families, where that seems almost impossible. Thus the line, "But, good God, people don't do such things!", which shows up at least twice in each ...more
Dec 22, 2015 Shanti rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, school
Well written but also terrifying {note I just read Hedda Gabler for school}
There is no doubt that Ibsen is one of the greatest playwrights. I can see why Ibsen was controversial among the Victorians, because he wrote about serious issues going on in that society.

On Ghosts:
Ibsen attacks Victorian hypocrisy and issues concerning marriage, money, and moral duties. Widowed Helene Alving's son has syphilis. This is why this play was not received well by critics. It was considered indecent and immoral. The issue of syphilis was a very scandalous topic. If one understands t
May 05, 2011 Keera marked it as unfinished
Recommends it for: Thespians, Feminists (A Doll's House), Femme Fatale Fans (Hedda Gabler)
Shelves: plays, school
I was required to read A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler in school. I really enjoyed both, so I'm considering finishing the other two at some other point.

A Doll's House
I don't think I can explain my love for Nora at the end of this play. The other characters are mere shadows to the development of her character. The symbolism of the title, and the ending were just perfect. Having read the alternate ending, I can't imagine it ending any other way. Certainly in real life and at presnt time period, th
Eric Hinkle
Sep 13, 2015 Eric Hinkle rated it really liked it
Pretty embarrassing that I've never set aside the time to read Ibsen before, given that each of these plays only takes a couple hours to read. And what plays! A Doll's House and Ghosts are two of the best plays I've ever read, and Hedda Gabler is a brilliant dramatic experience. The Master Builder didn't effect me nearly as much, although it was quite intriguing to read all of Ibsen's self-doubt about being an old man in the "new" age of Norwegian literature, and being downright afraid of a whip ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Winmonroe rated it it was amazing
I loved them all, though some really struck different chords with me.

Doll’s House 7.5/10
Doll’s House is a relentless examination of the web of social forces, money, and power that entangle marital relations. Familial duty and social norms are starkly conflicted with needs for personal development and autonomy, calling into question the basis on which marriage rests. Are our relationships real or are they games we play, filling roles rather than truly connecting and communicating?

I have a high s
Jul 09, 2015 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read all these plays before. Ibsen's world view is very dark and gloomy.
Each of these plays deals with the bad outcomes from following "conventional morality." He deals with lies (even well-intentioned ones), hypocrisy and monetary success at all costs. And the costs are great. Unfortunately, his tragedies suggest nothing at all to make things better.

In A Doll's House, Nora is a good little girl who has never grown up. And it seems unlikely to me that she ever will, regardless of which endi
Maxwell Koyama
May 31, 2016 Maxwell Koyama rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's not much to be said about Ibsen that hasn't been said already, so I just want to briefly refer to why I gave this collection four stars and not five.

GHOSTS, the second play in this book, is a bit of a mess, full of horrible melodrama and 19th century theatrical tropes that realism methodically avoids as a rule. But Ibsen steers straight into them with this play. The issues and themes are serious, prescient, and bold just as you would expect from the author, but in moments, it's really q
Jun 02, 2016 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spurned on by a live performance of A Doll's House a few weeks back, I felt inspired to check out this compendium of four plays by Ibsen. All four (A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, and The Master Builder) are remarkable in their own ways, and their respective main characters (Nora, Mrs. Alving, Hedda, and Solness) are so dimensional considering how much they teeter on the edge of being pure embodiments for the "problems" that Ibsen wishes to write about. They instead exist as living and bre ...more
Jane Mcneil
Feb 01, 2015 Jane Mcneil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ibsen's characters are far more in control to me than Chekov's, whom all seem emotionally unstable and hysterical. Does "The Seagull" make you want to find a good mental health facility or what? Ghosts and A Doll House are classics. Ibsen offers such rich characters struggling with limited resources and frustrating conflict. Which is why I enjoyed reading both. Hedda G. I did not like period. She was simply not a likable character. How far can you go to make a character detestable? I was relieve ...more
Overall, 3.5/5 stars

I studied A Doll's House in school, and we used this edition of the play. For context, I decided to read the other three plays that were published in this volume.

I wrote individual reviews of each of these plays, which are linked below.

A Doll's House : 4/5
My Review
The best play in this volume.

Ghosts : 2.5/5
My Review
Not necessarily bad, but, compared to the others, unremarkable.

Hedda Gabler : 3.5/5
My Review
The reason I like this play is because of how interesting Hedd
Feb 07, 2014 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
November 1, 2012 Finished Hedda Gabler. A remarkably different story than An Enemy of the People: nothing of the societal and moral issues; rather, this is about the relationships between a small number of people and how they try to influence and gain control over one another. I found it a very strong play. Hedda Gabler is either very likeable or dislikeable, it's all in there. I tend to view her as somewhat of an evil genius, but however much she wants to be, she isn't in control. The other cha ...more
May 12, 2011 A.M. rated it really liked it
I was required to read Ghosts at school, and only recently got around to reading the rest. While I'm not generally a play reader, there is a certain timelessness in the issues Ibsen examines that really captivated me.

I think it's best to consider these four plays in pairs:

A Doll's House and Ghosts both examine the Victorian woman and how she is stifled by the rules of a male-dominated society. Although the world today is much less rigid and structured than it was in Ibsen's time, I think that th
Feb 24, 2009 Jessica rated it it was amazing
lost my original review!! okay i will stop grumbling & reconstruct a bit:

really liked these! bravery as the willingness to escape as (often) destruction; that for these characters the cowardly thing is to live, a conditional love is meaningless, & y'know, regardless of purity or good intentions, at any moment one (or one's loved ones) may be struck by "tuberculosis of the spine" (yay syphilis!) or whatever other symbol of inherited evil. victorian era what??

scenery is very bare, placemen
Jan 26, 2013 Alexia rated it did not like it
Ugh. Maybe this review is going to be less about Ibsen and more about me. But oh well. There's a certain naivete and simplicity that runs throughout this book that just turns me off. Maybe that's indicative of this historical time, it's less connected and people knew less about the world around them. I've just been reading a bunch of historical plays and that's a feeling that I'm stuck with and I can't relate to it at all.
Also, about halfway through I'm thinking to myself "I'm not enjoying this"
Nov 28, 2007 Bob rated it it was amazing
Not sure I'll trouble myself with all four of these plays, but "Hedda Gabler" and "The Master Builder" are actually quite gripping. In each case, the initial clear-cut distinction between the "good" and "bad" characters quickly evaporates as in each successive scene they reveal different aspects of themselves - while superficially concerned with social hypocrisy presented in grimly Naturalistic way, Ibsen's appeal seems to me ultimately to lie in the internal psychological realm - how different ...more
This edition collects four of the famed Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's well-known plays: A Doll's House (Et Dukkehjem), Ghosts (Gengangere), Hedda Gabler, and The Master Builder (Bygmester Solness).

A Doll's House deals with female lead (Nora) and her decision to leave home alone, as she comes to terms with actions in her past. Though positively shocking on its première, nowadays it seems rather tame in comparison, though its deconstruction of traditional marital roles is still important for
Devon Flaherty
Aug 28, 2013 Devon Flaherty rated it liked it
I can’t say that I enjoyed these plays too much. Ibsen and I diverge too much in our basic ideas of the world. What he calls bravery, I call cowardice, and vice versa. What he calls virtue, I call selfishness, and again vice versa. But I will try to assess them from a literary perspective, as well as a taste one, especially understanding that many of his morals are the morals of my own society.

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian man born in 1828, who, as Oxford World’s Classics puts it, was a playwrigh
Frank Stein
May 26, 2010 Frank Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was almost ready to quit after "the Doll House."

I know it's famous, but I quickly got one of those "it must have been path-breaking in it's time" vibes. The characters are pure wood, the plot's pointless, and the dialog just aimlessly maunders along. I guess it got it's chops from the final scene when Nora declares herself to be an independent woman with needs, but that comes straight out of the blue because she spent the whole rest of the play acting like she couldn't tie her shoes by hersel
Feb 05, 2016 Ocanasjazmine rated it really liked it
I read ghosts but I didn't really like it. It wasn't catching my attention it was boring to me and I didn't really understand the whole concept of the book.I recommend this book to anyone who likes like things of suspense because to me it was being told like that. What I learned about myself as a reader is that I don't really like plays I would read another one but I would prefer a non fiction or a fiction book just because I would get mixed up with the characters.
Adrian Colesberry
Apr 12, 2009 Adrian Colesberry rated it it was amazing
I went on a tear on 2007 and read all of Henrik Ibsen and all of August Strindberg. Before I could get to all of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, I had to turn back to writing, and I can't read while I write. Ibsen is wonderful. The thing I like most about Ibsen is that he loves and respects women at least in his writing. Not all of his plays are tragedies either. Many are very funny and many have mixed endings, not all are downers.
Though I'm not a big fan of Peer Gynt. Strindberg's parody of Peer Gyn
Oct 09, 2008 Benewaa rated it liked it
This play took place during the Victorian era. During the Victoria era, women were second class citizen and married women had to ask permission from their husband to do anything. In the Play Nora, a married middle class woman who borrows money from Krogstad to pay for her husband's medical bills.
Since Nora's husband did not give her permission to borrow the money, she keeps this a secret from her husband. After eight years, Krogstad was getting fired from the bank by Torvald, Nora's hisband ther
So I read A Doll's House from the four of Ibsen's plays. As usual i wasn't really interested in reading this book. at..all. one because I don't like books written back then because i don't understand many parts and the language is a little difficult to comprehend. Also because this was a play and I was never really a big fan of plays. However like many of the books I read after the first chapter it got more and more interesting. Then we started to watch little clips of the play and i was suddenl ...more
Cody Hoeffel
Mar 05, 2015 Cody Hoeffel rated it really liked it
This is only for the Master Builder, though, based on that play I will be reading the three other plays in the book. The manipulation observed and questions raised throughout the play go on well past the ending. The play is a short read but it is packed with psychological intrigue.
Aug 04, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it
For the record, I actually finished this last week and forget to change it!

I had never read Ibsen before, but after countless comments and allusions made to "The Dollhouse" from professors during undergrad, I bought this collection of plays but never read it until almost three years later. I'm not too sure about the first two plays in this book, which included "The Dollhouse" (the other is "Ghosts"). For whatever reason they didn't really grab my attention and I feel like they were very obvious
Ryan Mishap
Dec 27, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
I got this during one of those periods when my brain was telling me to read some of the classics--you have to read the classics and the canon., it said. Even if you just intend to mock them and explain how screwed up they are, you have to read them to have locust standii. yeah, yeah, brain, I said, giving in.
Now look at me--sure I read these, but I don't recall a thing. There wasn't anything there I found to stick. Plays are the reverse of movies made out of books: movies from books are rarely
May 13, 2013 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eutanaasia, vördöiguslikkus, vabaabielu... need näidendid olid omal ajal töesti väga skandaalsed.. 'Kummitused' on töesti paslik järg 'Nukumajale', kus Nora iseteadlikkus ja vöib-olla hiljaärganud otsustavus elab edasi Mrs. Alvingis. Läbiv motiiv neis kahes näidendis on ka uskumus, et kui vanemad elavad ebamoraalset elu, siis see kodune öhk mürgitab ära ka lapsed.. 'Kummituste' peale pean veel natuke mötlema.. See oli nii priske allnootidest ja mitmetähenduslikkusest.

ja see mis järgnes Hedda Gab
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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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