Born on 20 March 1828, Henrik Johan Ibsen is often hailed as “the father of realism”. A major Norwegian playwright of the late 19th century, Ibsen is considered as one of the harbingers of modernism in theatre. Ibsen is best known for his powerful plays, most noted among them being A Doll’s House (1879) and Hedda Gabler (1890) and also his volume of poems.
Ibsen was born in a family of wealthy merchants but their fortune changed when Ibsen was about seven years old. The financial struggle of the family and the hardships faced by his mother influenced his writings; the plight of women in society and the problems of middle class were a recurring theme in his plays.
In an era that hailed morality and propriety, Ibsen brought forward the reality behind the facade and raised questions regarding the conflicts faced by the middle-class, the powerful, and the elites. Many of Ibsen’s writings were considered too controversial for his time. In fact, Nora’s “stepping out” of the house (in A Doll’s House) had such an impact and shock value that Ibsen was made to write what he calls “a barbaric outrage” – an alternate version with a more acceptable ending.
He kept the imaginary “fourth wall” in place to provide the audience an honest view into the life of his characters. His works forced the readers/viewers to analysis the problems that plague the society. And the flair and honesty with which he did so has kept his writings contemporary and accessible till today. This is why even 109 years after his death in 1906 his plays are still being adapted and presented on stages around the world; some believe that after Shakespeare, Ibsen’s works are performed most frequently in theatres.
Some of his other notable works are Peer Gynt (1867), Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884), and The Master Builder (1892).
– Article by Priyanka Kharbanda