Read Four Major Plays: A Doll's House / Ghosts / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen James McFarlane Jens Arup Online


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....

Title : Four Major Plays: A Doll's House / Ghosts / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder
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ISBN : 9780192833877
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 370 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Four Major Plays: A Doll's House / Ghosts / Hedda Gabler / The Master Builder Reviews

  • Barry Pierce
    2019-05-04 23:10

    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. Ghosts ★★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 that blew me away because well... it's Hedda Gabler. However while I did enjoy it, it wasn't exactly amazing. It reminded me a lot of Chekhov's The Seagull (which I think is a better play) and that comparison may have affected my enjoyment of this work. The Master Builder ★★★★My favourite play from this collection. It's a lot more "talkie" than the others and I really enjoy that. While the ending is a bit... odd, it's still wonderfully tragic and stayed in my mind longer than the other three plays.

  • David
    2019-05-02 20:04

    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 inference or the many interpretive possibilities, I imagined Mrs. Alving combating Pastor Manders' authority with a sort of equanimity. There's no contesting the fact that Manders is (in the common parlance) a jerk and somewhat of an idiot (to the extent that he can't decipher Engstrand's motives), and there's nothing a jerk hates more than being unable to 'reach' a victim with his or her insults or judgments. (From this knowledge is derived the contemporary admonition not to feed internet trolls—because they 'win' only if they get a reaction.) To that end, I pictured Mrs. Alving responding to Pastor Manders' admonishments in a seemingly pleasant and even voice, with a pretense to acquiescence, while all the while she develops an implicit case against the religious and moral authority that the pastor represents. I bring this up to highlight the uniqueness of reading plays. These are texts that are intended to be acted out and are often skeletal in design to allow directors, actors, set designers, and so on to add flesh to the story. (Admittedly, Henrik Ibsen attempts to control the set designers to an often ridiculous degree with detailed descriptions, but the dialogue in his plays is generally presented neutrally.) When you read a play, you are compelled to direct it yourself (in your mind). You might argue that that's true of novels and short stories as well—and that's of course true, but to a lesser extent. There is usually a lot more exposition and description in a story to make the narrative more specific in the reader's mind (unless you're reading, say, Hemingway). In most plays, many literalized cues are absent, and this is a good thing—in that it accommodates the creativity of those who put on the play. I think this is especially relevant to Ibsen because I have watched a filmed adaptation of each one of these plays since I finished them, and all of them—except Hedda Gabler (which I think is the weakest of the four included in this volume)—'felt' very different from what I imagined. Symptomatic of their era, the four plays rely heavily on (sometimes pained) narrative contrivances. These are harder to 'reconcile' when you only read the naked lines on the page, but when an actor or actress effectively embodies the psychology that results from these contrivances, they're so much easier to swallow.I have previously reviewed another edition of A Doll's House on this website. I referred to Nora as a 'twit' in that review. But that's of course because of how I was predisposed to direct her in my mind—which surely isn't to discount the fact that Nora is intended to seem flighty and childlike early on in the play. But when Nora is rendered 'human' in a production (in this case, by Claire Bloom in the 1970s version), her traits become less conceptual than an actual iteration of very real human idiosyncrasy. I enjoyed reading all of these plays and forming ideas of them in my mind, but Hedda Gabler doesn't feel sufficiently nuanced to me. The text doesn't allow enough room for an actress to make the title character anything but one-note. I wish there were a little more evidence of vulnerability in her, but she comes across as mainly villainous because her predicament (her indolence, her desire to wield psychological power) isn't explored. In the 1960s version, Ingrid Bergman played the role pretty much exactly as I imagined—and as the dialogue seems to demand.The most puzzling play in the group is The Master Builder, which is filled with ambiguities I haven't fully reckoned with yet. It will take another reading and (I hope) a few more productions of the play to wrap my mind around it. It seems to take place almost in a quasi-reality, embedded with symbolism I haven't really unraveled yet. The play's message, at first glance, seems contradictory, quarreling with itself... but this might be one of its strengths.

  • Laura
    2019-04-30 02:13

    There is no doubt that Ibsen is one of the greatest playwrights. Reading him for the first time was a wonderful experience, and it must be very exciting to see his plays on stage. On Ghosts: A widow, Mrs. Alving, has to face the fact that her son, Oswald, has inherited syphilis from his father, Captain Alving. Captain Alving is deceased and is mentioned throughout the play, and it follows that Mrs. Alving did not have the courage to leave her husband when she should have done so. Ibsen attacks nineteenth century attitudes regarding marriage, hypocrisy, religion, etc. Mrs. Alving has a very curious mind. While this is probably there bleakest Ibsen play I have read so far, I thought it was brilliant. They way Ibsen stages realism is wonderful. "I almost think we are all of us ghosts." This means we are haunted by our past, with ideas and beliefs. A society cannot go on believing in old ideas, and this is further discussed in Ibsen's play An Enemy of the People. On The Master Builder:This is a play in which an aging architect accidentally kills himself while trying to impress a young woman. All his fortune is built off of a family tragedy, and it is very ironic. It's lonely at the top. On Hedda Gabler: In my opinion, this is Ibsen's best work. It is a stirring, thought-provoking drama. It involves an unhappy marriage, which I found very similar to Madame Bovary, although Hedda Gabler is far better. Hedda is a manipulative character. She destroys and manipulates to get what she wants but she lives in a reality which she cannot accept. "It's a liberation to know that an act of spontaneous courage is yet possible in this world. An act that has something of unconditional beauty." -Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler On A Doll's House:I read this play in a different addition. This one also offered the alternate ending, where Nora does not leave her husband and children. He was forced to change the ending when they were doing a production of the play in Germany, and the leading actress insisted that she would not play the role of Nora unless Ibsen changed the ending. He did so under much pressure, and very reluctantly too. Ibsen encourages women to find their own selves and to think for themselves. Nora is married to a narrow-minded man, Torvald, who cannot tolerate her independence or decision making. Ibsen exposes middle class hypocrisy and encourages society to see the reality and not the ideal. Nora finally confronts the reality of the life she has lived for eight years and famously slams the door when Torvald thinks about "the miracle of miracles." I liked the character development and the symbolism. This is my first time reading Ibsen and I have to say the experience was wonderful. I would recommend him to anyone.

  • Sophie
    2019-05-23 19:21

    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 τις υποχρεώσεις της απέναντι στην κοινωνία, αλλά και απέναντι στο σύζυγό της.Ghosts☆☆☆☆☆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 υποβάλλει στη γυναίκα. Hedda Gabler☆☆☆☆/☆Από τα πιο δυνατά έργα που έχουν γραφτεί· πραγματεύεται τη δύναμη, τον έλεγχο και την επιρροή που επιθυμεί και που, κατ' επέκταση, ασκεί ο κάθε άνθρωπος στον άλλο, ενώ παράλληλα διερευνάται το αίσθημα και η σημασία της ελευθερίας, της υποταγής και της ανθρώπινης μείωσης.The Master Builder☆☆☆☆/☆Η ιστορία του Πρωτομάστορα, έχοντας αρκετές ομοιότητες στη βάση της με το έργο Έντα Γκάμπλερ, αφορά την επιρροή εστιασμένη όμως στις προσωπικές αδυναμίες και ανασφάλειες, που λειτουργούν ως κίνητρο για τη χειραγώγηση.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-04 22:16

    Henrik Ibsen, like his countrymen today, was ahead of his time. The four plays published in this book were written nearly 100 years ago. Nevertheless, they would be forward thinking in these times. This is definitely worth reading and re-reading.

  • Alex
    2019-05-15 22:30

    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 play.Hedda Gabler is sometimes called the female Hamlet, which seems a bit unnecessary. I mean, I get it. Both characters are lost and depressed and searching for something they're not quite sure of. But to me she seems more like Dorothea, the heroine of Middlemarch. Both marry stuffy, oblivious academics, and both yearn for something more out of life. Hedda Gabler is an image of what might have happened to Dorothea, had she been less strong and principled.I had the good fortune to be able to compare Jens Arup's Hedda Gabler translation, included here, with Michael Meyer's; Meyer's is worlds better than Arup's. It's not even close. McFarlane's translation of Doll's House is the only one I've read, and it came across well, but I would say that given the information I have right now, Meyer's my homeboy.

  • Shanti
    2019-04-30 01:28

    Well written but also terrifying {note I just read Hedda Gabler for school}

  • Nadia
    2019-05-12 21:01

    A brilliant playwright, Ibsen, no wonder his works are still played today. A very powerful voice and a surprisingly modern one too.

  • Keera
    2019-05-14 02:28

    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 HouseI 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, this ending would have to be looked at in a totally different way, but without those considerations, and seeing the main message makes this a must-read even today, in my opinion.My rating: 5/5Hedda GablerThe namesake of this play has got to be one of the most terrifying characters I have ever read about. Maybe it's because I wasn't expecting it, as I began the play without any prior knowledge. I think what truly makes Hedda such a frightening character is the fact that the audience lacks the ability to see inside her head. Thus, we only view her actions, and must depend on hearing her voiced opinions. Ibsen deserves credit for making such an astonishing and horrible character into a believable woman. Honestly, she is such a perfect character to hate and the end fits so wonderfully with her previous words and actions. However, the main detractor of the play for me was that I was often confused about what was going on between the male characters/distinguishing in particular Brack and Loveborg except at the very last act. Perhaps I didn't pay enough attention, but when we would go over certain things in class, I would realize I had completely missed an important detail. Also, I would have loved to see Mademoiselle Diana in action!My Rating: 4.5/5

  • Devon Flaherty
    2019-05-14 03:22

    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 playwright with “a period of sustained creative endeavor unparalleled in the history of modern theater and one which gave a whole new impetus and direction to the drama of the twentieth century.” Whew. His most famous play, “A Doll’s House,” was published in 1879, and began his career as a public menace, the object of outrage. His plays started the stage in Scandinavia, where they met with wide public debate, and in Germany the ending was (forced to be) re-wrote. It took until 1889 for the play to reach London, where its fame preceded it. Amid criticism and hostility were support and love, and Ibsen would continue as a public topic of polarized debate for his career. Ibsen knew his plays, their topics, and his “stark” treatment of them were inciting, but he sought truth at all cost, and dealt openly with subjects like commercial hypocrisy, religious intolerance, political expediency, conventional morality, and established authority (including man’s authority over woman). As time continued, he moved from the public sphere of conflict to a personal one, where his characters increasingly wrestled with temperamental and sexual incompatibility, magnetism, force, their unconscious mind, and dreams and visions. Overall, his writing was not only an impetus for social change, but also a game-changer in the arena of theater, where he excelled at using subtleties in language to an extent no one before had ever done before.The “period of sustained creative endeavor unparalleled in the history of modern theater” began in 1877 and lasted until 1892. The four plays I read were pairs of plays at the beginning (almost) and end of this period. “A Doll’s House” was meant to culminate in “Ghosts,” and “Hedda Gabler” and “The Master Builder” were–as I have heard the phrase before–spiritual sisters.I have been doing a lot of thinking about plays as literature, lately (which may be revisited when I review “Hamlet”). It is not quite adequete to read a play, exactly. I would think that in almost all circumstance, plays are truly realized when they are performed. However, as this is a book blog and plays are often included in lists of novels/great literature, I will review them as I would a novel. If I easily encounter performances of them, I will review those as well. Almost any decent play can become great in the hands of a masterful director, actors, and set artist, and likewise can fall flat without them.As for Ibsen’s plays, I find his characters to be unbelievable, especially one of the shining stars of his fame and accomplishments, Nora Helmer. I guess what I find most obnoxious about these characters is the speed with which they do things, which could be blamed on the necessity of story and play-writing, or it could be that the characters do not show significant glimmers of what they are to suddenly and so surprisingly become. Nora, for example, is this flitting, domestic plaything (thus the title) for nine-tenths of the play, unable to see her own mistakes and the seriousness of the looming catastrophe ahead. Then, all of a sudden, she is a most advanced, thoughtful, determined individual, come to drastic acts with absolutely no passion and able to express her inmost feelings and will to her husband without missing a beat. I’ve been in arguments. They don’t go like that.Ibsen has also said of his own work that his plays do not make statements, they just pose questions. It is unfortunate that authors can not know their own work or impact as well as they might like (me and everyone else included), but I don’t buy this assessment for a second. It is historically interesting that he considered his plays questions, but they are very clearly works of value statements and modes for societal change (which is exactly what they became.) With lines like “If I’m ever going to reach any understanding of myself and the things around me, I must learn to stand alone,” would you believe his plays are unbiased vignettes, wondering about human nature, and nothing more?And finally, I have to come back to this matter of taste. Ibsen, as might have been necessary in someone pushing toward individualism and equality in the 1800s, makes selfishness the knight in shining armor of his plays. I can’t enjoy story lines where such individuality is honored above duty and community and a moral compass; it’s just not something I believe and so I find Ibsen’s heroes and heroines unpalatable. In some stories, that’s okay, but Ibsen’s plays are constructed around the ideal, a pleasurable inoculation of them, so it’s much harder than having, for example, a novel where one of the characters commits suicide (a favorite of his) and another runs away (another favorite), and the novel’s judgement remains unclear or backward from what the reader might have picked. Let’s face it; we expect the just desserts of characters to line up with our morals, or else we have this thing called dissatisfaction. Only a very talented author can make characters so complex that we are willing to stay judgement for love of the character or some other dearly held ideal: that’s when literature can bend our future ideas, not when we are presented with characters that shock us and then merrily get the opposite of what we think they deserve.For all that, I enjoy the story lines of some of his plays, especially “A Doll’s House.” Others were much less dramatic and, I would go so far, boring (namely “Ghosts”). Again, it’s only historically interesting Ibsen thought “Ghosts” was the culmination of “A Doll’s House,” because “House” is clearly the masterpiece of the two, better in every way I can think of. It’s dramatic. It’s interesting. It has several different plots interweaving on one stage, in one set, in just a few virtual days.“A Doll’s House”Like I said, I really enjoy the story of this play, but I find the outcome less than satisfying. I was also astonished by how many lines and ideas have become part of our culture. To wit (just from Nora’s lines in the last scene): “I have never understood you, either–until tonight,” “I’ve been greatly wronged, Torvald,” “You two never loved me,” “It’s your fault that I’ve never made anything of my life,” “I thought I was [happy], but I wasn’t really,” “I must take steps to educate myself,” “That’s something I must do on my own,” “I must learn to stand alone,” “All I know is that this is necessary for me,” “I have another duty equally sacred … My duty to myself,” “I have to think things out for myself,” “I believe that first and foremost I am an individual,” I don’t really know what religion is,” and “But I can’t help it. I don’t love you anymore.” It’s probably difficult to remove ourselves enough from the twenty-first to the nineteenth century to see what kind of statements these were, back then, but it seems that I am still hearing the echoes of Ibsen every day, at all levels of our society. That is quite something.“Miserable as I am, I’m quite ready to let things drag on as long as possible. All my patients are the dame. Even those with moral affliction are no different” (p18).“Ah, Torvald, you are not the man to teach me to be a good wife to you” (p81).“Ghosts”Sorry, but I found this play to be a lot of talking with no purpose. Boring. I can barely remember what it wasn’t about.“My dear lady, there are many occasions in life when one must rely on others. That’s the way of the world, and things are best that way. How else would society manage?” (p102).“All of this demanding to by happy in life, it’s all part of this same wanton idea. What right have people to happiness? No, we have our duty to do, Mrs. Alving” (p113).“Hedda Gabler”Alright, back to interesting. Again, can’t agree with half of what Ibsen implies, but at least there is a vibrant plot(s) here. I imagine you could put on quite a show with this play.“Because we men, you know, we’re not always so firm in our principles as we ought to be” (p237).“I’d sooner die! / People say such things, but they never do them” (p262).“One generally acquiesces in what is inevitable” (p262).“The Master Builder”A mildly interesting play with somewhat interesting characters. Funny that “The Master Builder” is considered the culmination of “Hedda Gabler,” when “Gabler” was far superior.“It’s fantastic the number of devils there are in the world you never even see, Hilde!” (p323).“Or if one had a really tough and vigorous conscience. So that one dared to do what one wanted” (p323).In a way, reading Ibsen is like seeing ourselves in a cracked, Victorian mirror. If, indeed, these plays were just questions, then my questions are these: Is Nora the heroine? Or Kristine? And does “Hedda Gabler” have a hero at all?*****Despite plenty of online photos of productions of these plays, I found only one video I could get my hands on, which is the Anthony Hopkins version of A Doll’s House (1973). And actually, I really enjoyed it. I thought that what Hopkins did for Torvald was a sight to behold, making the viewer sympathetic to him. And Claire Bloom actually welds Nora’s flightiness and her final conclusions together. It’s really wonderful acting. My only disappointment was the age of Doctor Rank. The guy played it well, but he was much too old to create much sexual tension between him and Nora (although they managed it fairly well, anyhow). If you are interested in plays or Ibsen, I would recommend this one. (It doesn’t view like a modern movie, as much).***REVIEW WRITTEN FOR THE STARVING ARTIST BLOG.

  • Richard
    2019-04-28 22:18

    Ibsen: So what? There's clearly some major historical importance to these plays, but their "political" content trumps their "poetic" content to such a degree that in the end, to me as a "modern" reader, I'm left with a feeling that while I've experienced some kind of exquisite Aristotalean perfection of tragic "form", that's about it - plus I get that with Greek tragedy, and they have so much "poetic" value. Sure - Nora's behavior at the end of The Doll House is "shocking" - and we can go on all day about whether she is a "good person" or a "bad person", but in the end I felt like rolling my eyes - is it just me? Hedda Gabler seemed like the best of the lot, some quite complex themes going on, but the ending was so pathetic, if you're going to be Lady Macbeth, go insane or go out in a blaze of glory. The Master Builder had some intriguing bizarre conversations between Solness and Hilde but in the end again, a boring, faux-deep ending. Anyway, this seems to be necessary reading to understand the convulsions at the end of the Victorian Era, as these plays are discussed everywhere, but its modern applicability is limited. I will take Galsworthy over Ibsen any day. Anyway, on the plus side, great train reading, and the stage directions were interesting.

  • Kerry
    2019-05-19 20:30

    Excellent collection of Ibsen's most recognised plays. Enjoyed this immensely!

  • Ferhat Culfaz
    2019-04-29 00:22

    Great little book with Ibsen’s best plays.

  • Dallas
    2019-05-06 00:29

    Henrik Ibsen is an example of how a man can be a feminist

  • Laurens
    2019-05-22 03:16

    Voordat vrouwen een eigen stem hadden, gaf Henrik Ibsen hen er een.

  • Paul Edward
    2019-05-14 20:20

    really, really, good.

  • FoxClouds
    2019-04-23 20:02

    The rating is for Hedda Gabler only.

  • Winmonroe
    2019-05-20 23:05

    I loved them all, though some really struck different chords with me.Doll’s House 7.5/10Doll’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 standard for social commentary in art. Often I think a good intention is substituted for good craftsmanship. But for Doll’s House such a compromise is not made. It is wonderfully and compellingly written. Ibsen’s talent for crafting powerful and evocative scenes is demonstrated over and over again and his eye for the complexity and subtly of relationships is impressive. At times the characters in Doll’s House almost feel a bit caricatured, which is probably my only reservation to the play, but it may have also been necessary to help the conservative theater audience of 1879 truly open up to the self-examination the play encourages. Ghosts 9/10Ghosts continues many of the themes of Doll’s House. Traditional marital relations and the role casts for women in society are thoroughly explored, but here the sources of this social web are more directly questioned. In particular, the shadow religion casts over families, defining responsibilities and duties, and the social pressures of maintaining reputation in communities, are challenged by an increasingly modern world view. Life is haunted by old ideas, but rebellion against it is more difficult than first thought. In Ghosts social commentary still dominates, but we become more personally invested in the characters and their fates bring a more emotional dimension to drama.Hedda Gabler 8/10Hedda Gabler is a force with few competitors in literature, perhaps only to include Shakespeare’ Iago and McCarthy’s Judge. From the first page to the last she is using all of her power to maintain control over her life and those around her. The play marks a transition from the oppression of women explored in Doll’s House and Ghosts, to more general forms of how individuals seek to influence, control, and dominate one another. No one seems to understand this better than Hedda, but in understanding the game of power and control she seeks to out-compete everyone. Such a bold and direct attempt to master those around her raises complicated challenges as sometimes one person’s desire for autonomy results in the diminution of another’s. We follow the conflicts of interests and power as they compete with one another.The Master Builder 9/10The Master Builder felt wholly different. While struggles of power and influence shape the contours of the story, like Ghosts the personal stories outgrow their didactic purposes. Instead the story seems more focused on the doubts and insecurities that are then the motivation for domination and manipulation. Those doubts and insecurities are explored as internal conflicts of love and fear, dreams and nightmares, woven together through a terrible and pathetic character, The Master Builder, who Ibsen somehow is able to sustain a sympathy for, and the marvelous Hilde who may be princess or devil, we cannot be sure.

  • Eric Hinkle
    2019-04-28 21:07

    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 whippersnapper like Knut Hamsun. This late-period play, as well as Hedda, are both very telling about where Ibsen's mind and self-opinion was at that stage in his life. And while I can appreciate reading them, I didn't find them nearly as enjoyable, interesting, or brilliant as the earlier two. Indeed, had The Master Builder not been included I would have given this five stars without a second thought.It's incredible to read how much impact A Doll's House and Ghosts had on the public. Sermons were preached, public speeches were given in public halls, and, in the case of Ghosts, booksellers returned nearly all their copies to the publishers in disgust, and "decent people" were not to be seen reading such a filthy volume. Classic!These two plays are rather unsettling, and I was quite drained by the end of each. Ibsen dug so deeply into the darkness of our souls that you can't help but be effected by it. The women in these plays (all four, actually) are so huge and leave such an impact, likely imprinted forever on every brain who meets them.I didn't actually read this particular volume, but four separate volumes of these plays, two translated by Michael Meyer, Ghosts by Thaddeus Thorp, and I can't remember the other. Thorp's note on the humor in Ghosts is very important, and he paid very special attention to bringing out all the humor underlying the words of the play (which he never noticed until hearing a hall full of Norwegians laughing along with it). It is indeed quite hilarious in many parts, especially with the pastor and Jacob Engstrand. Pastor Manders is a very "skin-holy" man, as the Norwegians say. His ridiculously pious hypocrisy is just as angering as it is hilarious. Yes, this is one of my very favorite plays!It's interesting how these are the plays he's now known for, especially outside of Norway, and all his earlier work is completely forgotten (except amongst enthusiasts and scholars). I can't say, but I think that's a shame, as he surely wrote a lot of classics before these, given that he was a beloved legend even before these plays were premiered. If anyone reading this far can give me some recommendations for earlier works, preferably mid-period Ibsen, they would be much appreciated!

  • Jesse
    2019-05-24 03:04

    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 characters escape her plans and do what they want; thus, she becomes the ball in their game. November 6, 2012 Finished A Doll's House. One of Ibsen's plays which comments on social issues, in this case the position of women. The first performances caused a real scandal everywhere in Europe - something which seems ridiculously backward to the contemporary reader, although the force of Nora's statement still is amazing. I am a fan of Ibsen's style, although this play lacked some of the perfection Hedda Gabler does have: H.G.'s plot is more balanced and worked out, I would say, and the characters are more vivacious and lively.November 8, 2012 Finished Ghosts. This is the weakest of the three plays I've so far. The dialogues between characters tended at times to be boring, which is of course of utmost importance when that is all the reader is presented with while reading a play. November 9, 2012The Master Builder. Again a play in which the dialogues were sometimes tedious, although they are also masterly well-crafted.

  • A.M.
    2019-05-16 22:25

    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 the main themes of familial and motherly duty still resonate today. Both Nora and Mrs Alving are trapped by circumstance, and so despite their not being paragons of virtue, it is very easy to sympathize with their plight. On the other hand, Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder move from studying society vs. the individual to examining the relationships between individuals, and in particular, how one person can force their will on another. In this case, both Hedda and Hilde -- while fascinating characters -- are much less likeable. It's tragic how important it is for them to control other people's fates by whatever means, when they have such little control over their own. From a broader perspective, however, there is a unifying theme linking all four plays. Every one examines how outside influences (whether from another person or society at large) can impinge upon personal freedom. Interesting food for thought.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-06 20:11

    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, placement of objects/people very chekhov (chekhov's are very like ibsen's, i should probably say instead?): slim, slim, everything w/ its use - the piano will be played, the flowers will be insulted - & hand-in-hand w/ that the foreshadowing a bit forced & a bit, okay, utilitarian, but in plays i'm way more likely to go for that.ibsen came from a good family that pretty quickly fell apart, & in his late teens he knocked up a servant (see ghosts) before bailing, never to have any contact (aside from the financial) w/ his son (see guilt of the father, featuring in all four plays); as a student was sometimes seen sprawling in the (literal) gutter (see hedda gabler). did i mention autobiographical much. he also had wicked mutton chops, which really makes up for the rest.thanks a/josh/john whoever else mentioned this one, two thumbs. will add quotes soon i think.

  • James
    2019-05-12 23:01

    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 women's studies today.Ghosts deals with the past's effects on the present and how decisions made long ago have severe consequences today. I preferred this play over A Doll's House since the central conflict was more interesting. Hedda Gabler was another favourite, dealing with one woman's quest to control all those around her. The character of Hedda is particularly interesting since there are many different ways in which she can be interpreted: a wife looking out for her husband, manipulative villain, or prototypical feminist. The Master Builder deals with power again - this time between men and women, and how that power is used. It is a deconstruction of a middle-aged man and his infatuation with a young woman, with deadly consequence. Altogether, these four plays present an excellent introduction to Ibsen's dramatic corpus: showing both focus on personal struggle and public dilemma.

  • Bob
    2019-05-04 03:29

    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 a person can we be simply by virtue of who we are talking to and how our values mesh with theirs? In this case, I couldn't really get all the way through the introduction but here are a few fun facts (and interpretations) - Ibsen, a Norwegian, wrote all his plays between 1850 and 1899 and they fall into two distinct types, divided roughly around 1875, the midway point of his productive life. In the earlier quarter century, he lived abroad, wrote poetry as well as plays and was quite a serious and reasonably accomplished visual artist. Giving that all up - having found his true voice, in conventional terms - he returned to Norway and focused exclusively on the series of plays for which (excepting Peer Gynt from the earlier period) he is remembered.

  • Jonathan
    2019-04-23 02:06

    Overall, 3.5/5 stars I studiedA Doll's Housein 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 : 4/5My ReviewThe best play in this volume. Ghosts : 2.5/5My ReviewNot necessarily bad, but, compared to the others, unremarkable. Hedda Gabler : 3.5/5My ReviewThe reason I like this play is because of how interesting Hedda is as a character. The Master Builder : 4/5My ReviewThe most enjoyable play to read in this volume. I liked the ending of this one more than the ending ofHedda Gablerbecause, (view spoiler)[ whilst in both plays the protagonist kills themself, given the characterization of Hedda as - to generalize - crazy, it is more shocking but has less of an impact than Solness' suicide(hide spoiler)].

  • Carol
    2019-05-08 21:29

    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 ending one chooses. (The book gives an alternate ending, demanded by the ticket-buying public, that Ibsen hated. See, he's caught in the same trap - success at all costs.)In Ghosts, the sins of the fathers come to rest on both of his children. In the hands of a different playwright, the closing lines "The sun. The sun." could have been gloriously hopeful. Not the case here.Hedda Gabler is another girl who never grew up. In fact, she's still a spoiled brat, ruining the lives of everyone else.And the Master Builder somehow reminds me of the Tower of Babel, which was a high tower built by those who thought they could reach heaven by material means.

  • Alexia
    2019-05-13 19:10

    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" but trying to push through so I can understand it and why it's so important to the literary canon. But, after thinking it through, I don't think it's right for me to finish. I tend to read classics and some of them are far less interesting than the criticism and meta writing done about them. The actual classic itself is a bore.So, after a while, I was just like, if I'm so interested and motivated by the literary canon maybe I should just go read some criticism and drop the original text.So that's what I’m doing. It could completely be a misguided step but it's honest, in my quest as an intellectual and a reader that's all I can demand of myself.

  • Frank Stein
    2019-04-28 01:04

    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 herself. Also, I couldn't finish "Ghosts."So I skipped to Hedda Gabler, and thankfully that was amazing. Sometimes I wondered whether a character could really be that evil (and whether even a naive husband could be ignorant of that evil for so long), but she's really one of the great all-time sociopaths in literature, just an awesome, incomprehensible maniac.And "The Master Builder" is kind of cool. A little too symbolist for my tastes, but definitely weird and worthwhile.

  • Adrian Colesberry
    2019-04-28 00:27

    I went on a tear on 2007 and read all of Henrik Ibsen and all ofAugust 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 Gynt, Lucky Per's Journey is a hoot. If you ever have a chance to see it performed, definitely go. This is my review for all of Ibsen.

  • Eric
    2019-05-22 20:18

    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 breathing people being of Ibsen's mastery of characterization. The plays also thrive on dialogue that has a natural rhythm of everyday conversation, and Ibsen structures each in such a way that the revelations and dynamics between the characters slowly reveal themselves amidst the careful attention to domestic detail. These were terrific works to read and I would love to eventually see productions of the other three to see Ibsen's work as it was fully meant to be appreciated.