Essay on Ibsen Realism

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In the style of realism, a playwright by the name of Henrik Ibsen decided to push societal limits by examining conditions of life and ethics. Unfortunately, Ibsen lived at the height of Victorian morality. Any subject matter not bowing to Victorian era conformity (strong ethics, sexual repression/ morality, and a Puritanical tolerance of crime) was first considered disgraceful, and subsequently immoral. Non-the-less, Ibsen was determined to broadcast the reality behind many of the facades the age had produced. Henrik Ibsen's plays anticipate major developments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These developments include the individual's feelings of alienation from society, the pressures by which society insures conformity to its values and suppresses individuality and the barriers which modern life sets up against living heroically. Ibsen exposed other stresses of modern life by showing the inner pressures and conflicts that inhibit and even destroy the individual. Some of these pressures stem from conditioning.

A primary value for Ibsen in his plays is freedom. He believed freedom to be essential for self-fulfillment. Of the "many things" which his later writings were concerned with, Ibsen specifically identified "contradictions between ability and desire, or between will and circumstance, the mingled tragedy and comedy of humanity and the individual."

Ibsen was constantly experimenting and pushing boundaries in his writing. This habit of exploration often made him and his plays controversial and shocked conservative critics and audiences. His constant changing often confused the audience and critics, who had to keep adjusting their expectations of an Ibsen play. His repeated changes and experimenting also make it difficult to place Ibsen and his plays in neat categories. Adding to the difficulty of classifying him is the complexity with which he presents his heroes and themes. The resulting uncertainty has enabled readers to find support for...
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