Evan Sandman'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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Jul 15, 09

Read in June, 2009

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.

b. Hedda Gabler--Look no further for the seed of modern drama. Hedda feels the horror of turning twenty-nine, and decides the solution is to marry someone she can’t stand just to torture herself. All would be well in Norway, if her old lover Eilert Lovborg didn’t come back to town, looking great, and bearing the manuscript for what might just be the next Norwegian Pulitzer. How can Hedda show Lovborg that he’s still just as messed up as she? A classic, even if Lovborg’s falling apart is a bit too obvious.

c. The Master Builder--I’m not a fan. Every hot young lady in town just can’t help falling in love with the old master, who‘s really an enormous asshole. One wonders if this one accompanied Ibsen to the restroom with the hand lotion. And the “he’s going to fall off the tower! No, he’s going to make it! Oops, no, he fell” ending? Blech.

d. A Doll’s House--Another classic. Torvald is all caring and condescension towards his not-so-scatterbrained wife, only to be seized by selfishness when her secret actions are revealed. What good was her saving his life if it was only going to kill his professional reputation? Heavy-handed, but makes its point.
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