Ibsen's Relevance and Influence Endure

Today Ibsen’s wedding of tragedy to the ethical dilemmas and unadorned rhetoric of middle-class characters seems like the necessary prelude to modern drama, from George Bernard Shaw to Arthur Miller. Within his stuffed Victorian living rooms, the Norwegian playwright championed free-thinking, if flawed, heroes over both the conformist masses and self-aggrandizing authorities. His signature metaphors of corruption and contagion — along with the violent undertow in his works, informed by the upheavals of 19th-century Europe — retain their relevance. The fateful door-slamming in A Doll’s House, the shattered glass in An Enemy of the People, and the climactic gunshots in Hedda Gabler and The Wild Duck are staples of our theatrical vocabulary. Ibsen has become, as W.H. Auden might say, a whole climate of opinion about the possibilities and the limits of realistic prose drama — though the dramatist himself, more protean than his legacy, was also a poet and a symbolist. —Julia M. KleinIbsen’s Relevance and Influence Endure (Chronicle)

Great biographal essay about Ibsen.