Rhonda's Reviews > Four Major Plays, Vol. 1: A Doll House / The Wild Duck / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder

Four Major Plays, Vol. 1 by Henrik Ibsen
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Feb 16, 09

bookshelves: 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 out, but rather someone who has been pushed into a particular place by external expectations. Her bravery is simply bucking the system, as it were, going against the grain of what is expected of her, but it’s the same thing as if any person has been working in various jobs or living with particular parents or as in this case an overbearing husband. This play suggests that there can come a time when you decide not to allow someone else to manipulate your life. It unfortunately takes more than just courage and anger to make such a decision. One recognizes in Nora a great fortitude as well as a need to become a person on her own terms. I applaud all the Noras who make that brave decision.
The Master Builder has always been my favorite of Ibsen’s plays. It presents the extraordinary difficulty each of us has in balancing a personal and professional life, especially when the professional life is highly competitive and demanding. I find less symbolism and more psychology in this play and it is a masterwork of depicting the guilty conscience that one has in being unable to do all the things one desires for all the right reasons. Sooner or later, this play says, your lifestyle makes you look hard into a mirror and question how and why you did things. I see this play as Ibsen asking the same question of himself.
theWild Duck is a special play for anyone from a dysfunctional family. Deprived of all theirlies, some to each other some which support one anoter's lies, the family cannot help but fall apart. It seems easier advice to accept than to practice, but one wonders whether in fact a person canlive without his or her false dreams.

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