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Hedda Gabler And Other Plays : Popular Penguins : Popular Penguins - Ibsen Henrik

Hedda Gabler And Other Plays : Popular Penguins

Popular Penguins

Paperback Published: 28th June 2010
ISBN: 9780141195216
Number Of Pages: 372

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In these three unforgettably intense plays, Henrick Ibsen explores the problems of personal and social morality that he perceived in the world around him and, in particular, the complex nature of truth.

About The Author

Henrik Ibsen was born of well-to-do parents at Skien, a small Norwegian coastal town, on March 20, 1828. In 1836 his father went bankrupt, and the family was reduced to near poverty. At the age of fifteen, he was apprenticed to an apothecary in Grimstad. In 1850 Ibsen ventured to Christiania—present-day Oslo—as a student, with the hope of becoming a doctor. On the strength of his first two plays he was appointed 'theater-poet' to the new Bergen National Theater, where he wrote five conventional romantic and historical dramas and absorbed the elements of his craft.

In 1857 he was called to the directorship of the financially unsound Christiania Norwegian Theater, which failed in 1862. In 1864, exhausted and enraged by the frustration of his efforts toward a national drama and theater, he quit Norway for what became twenty-seven years of voluntary exile abroad. In Italy he wrote the volcanic Brand (1866), which made his reputation and secured him a poet's stipend from the government. Its companion piece, the phantasmagoric Peer Gynt, followed in 1867, then the immense double play, Emperor and Galilean (1873), expressing his philosophy of civilization.

Meanwhile, having moved to Germany, Ibsen had been searching for a new style. With The Pillars of Society he found it; this became the first of twelve plays, appearing at two-year intervals, that confirmed his international standing as the foremost dramatist of his age. In 1900 Ibsen suffered the first of several strokes that incapacitated him. He died in Oslo on May 23, 1906.


[A large garden room in Bernick's house. In the foreground, to the left, a door leads into Bernick's room; farther back in the same wall is a similar door. In the middle of the opposite wall is a larger door leading to the entrance hall. The wall in the background is almost entirely of plate glass; an open door leading to broad steps down to the garden, with an awning spread over them. Below the steps is seen part of the garden, enclosed by a railing with a little entrance-gate. Outside and along the railing runs a street, the opposite side of which consists of small, brightly painted wooden houses. It is summer, and the sunshine is warm. Now and then somebody passes by along the street; people stop and talk, buy something at a little shop on the corner, and so forth.

In the garden room, a group of women are sitting round a table. In the middle, facing the audience, sits Mrs Bernick. On her left sits Mrs Holt with her daughter, then Mrs Rummel and Miss Rummel. On Mrs Bernick's right sit Mrs Lynge, Miss Bernick and Dina Dorf. The women are all busy with needlework. On the table are large piles of linen, cut out and half made-up, and other articles of clothing. Farther back, at a little table with two potted plants and a glass of sugar-water, sits Rörlund, the schoolmaster, reading aloud from a gilt-edged book, but so that only an occasional word is heard by the audience. Out in the garden Olaf Bernick is running about and shooting at things with a toy gun.

Presently Aune, the shipwright, comes quietly in by the door on the right. There is a moment's interruption in the reading; Mrs Bernick nods to him and points to the door on the left. Aune goes quietly across and knocks gently on Bernick's door, once or twice, pausing between the knocks. Krap, the head clerk, comes out of the room with his hat in his hand and some papers under his arm.]

KRAP. Oh, it's you knocking?

AUNE. The master sent for me.

KRAP. He did; but he can't see you. He's instructed me to –

AUNE. You? I'd really rather ‑

KRAP. - Instructed me to tell you this: you must stop these talks to the workmen on Saturdays.

AUNE. Must I? I thought I could use my free time ‑

KRAP. You can't use your free time to make the men useless in work-time. Last Saturday you were talking about the harm it would do the workers if we introduced the new machines and methods in the shipyard. Why do you do that?

AUNE. I do it in the interests of the community.

KRAP. That's odd! The chief says it's disrupting the community.

AUNE. My community is not the master's, Mr Krap. As head of the Workers' Association I must ‑

KRAP. You are first and foremost the head of Mr Bernick's shipyard. First and foremost comes your duty to the community known as Bernick and Co. For that's where we all get our living. Well, now you know what the chief had to say to you.

AUNE. The master wouldn't have said it like that, Mr Krap. But I can guess who's to thank for this. It's that damned American wreck. Those people want the work done the way they're used to over there, and that -

KRAP. Well, well; I can't go into details. You know now what the chief wants, and that's enough. So you go down to the shipyard again; you're probably needed. I'll be down there myself directly. If you'll permit me, ladies!

 [He bows and goes out through the garden and down the street. Aune goes quietly out to the right. Rörlund, who has gone on reading in lowered tones during this conversation, finishes the book soon after and shuts it up with a snap.]

RÖRLUND. There we are, my dear listeners; that is the end.

MRS RUMMEL. What an instructive story!

MRS HOLT. And such a beautiful moral!

MRS BERNICK. A book like that certainly gives one a lot to think about.

RÖRLUND. Ah yes. It provides a wholesome contrast with what we unfortunately meet every day in our newspapers and periodicals. This gilded and painted facade that the big nations display - what does it actually conceal? Hollowness and rottenness, if I may put it so. No moral foundation to stand on. In short, these big communities of today are whited sepulchres.

MRS HOLT. Yes, that is certainly true.

MRS RUMMEL. We've only to look at the crew of the American boat that's lying here at the moment.

RÖRLUND. Ah, well, I won't discuss off-scourings of humanity like that. But even in the better classes - how are things with them? Doubt and unrest at work everywhere. No peace in men's minds and no security in any kind of relationship. The undermining of family life out there ! The revolutionary audacity - the defiance of the most solemn truths !

DINA [without looking up]. But there are some great things done, too, aren't there?

RÖRLUND. Great things? I don't understand ‑

MRS HOLT [in astonishment]. But - good gracious, Dina!
MRS RUMMEL [simultaneously]. But, Dina, how can you - ?
RÖRLUND. I don't think it would be very good for us if things like that gained a footing here. No; we at home should thank God that things here are as they are. Of course, here too tares sometimes grow among the wheat  — unfortunately. But we do our best to weed them out, as far as we can. Our business is to keep society pure, ladies; to keep out all these experimental notions that an impatient age wants to force on us.

MRS HOLT. And there are more than enough of them, unfortunately.

MRS RUMMEL. Why, last year the town was only saved by a hair's breadth from having a railway.

MRS BERNICK. Ah, well, Karsten managed to prevent that.

RÖRLUND. Providence, Mrs Bernick. You may be sure your husband was an instrument in a Higher Hand when he refused to lend himself to that project.

MRS BERNICK. And yet he was so abused by the papers. But we're quite forgetting to thank you, Mr Rörlund. It is really more than kind of you to give us so much time.

RÖRLUND. Oh no. Now, during the school holidays -

MRS BERNICK. Ah yes, but it's a sacrifice, all the same, Mr Rörlund.

RÖRLUND [moving his chair nearer]. Don't mention it, my dear lady. Aren't you all making a sacrifice in a good cause? And don't you make it willingly and gladly? These fallen sisters, for whose betterment we're working, should be thought of as wounded soldiers on a battlefield. You, ladies, are the First Aid Detachment, a Red Cross Unit that prepares the lint for these unhappy victims, lays the bandages gently upon their wounds, cures and heals them -

MRS BERNICK. It must be a great blessing to be able to see everything in such a beautiful light.

RÖRLUND. Much of it comes by nature; but much can also be acquired. The great thing is to look at things by the light of a serious purpose. Now what do you say, Miss Bernick? Don't you find that you have, as it were, a firmer foundation to stand on since you took on your school-work?

MISS BERNICK. Well, I don't know what to say. Often when I'm down there in the school-room, I wish I were far out on the stormy sea.

RÖRLUND. Why, yes; we all have our temptations, my dear Miss Bernick. But we must bar the door against such disturbing guests. The stormy sea – of course you don't mean that literally; you mean the great surging world of humanity where so many are wrecked. And do you really set so much store by the life you hear seething and rushing past out there? Just look down into the street. The people there are going about in the burning sun, sweating and struggling over their petty concerns. Ah no; we're certainly better off, we who sit in here in the shade and turn our backs on the sources of distraction.

MISS BERNICK. Yes, of course, you're perfectly right, I'm

sure. ...

RÖRLUND. And in a house like this, in a good and pure home, where family life is to be seen in its fairest form, where peace and concord rule – [To Mrs Bernick.] What is it you're listening to, Mrs Bernick?

MRS BERNICK [who has turned towards the farther door on the left]. How loud they're getting in there!

RÖRLUND. Is anything specially the matter?

MRS BERNICK. I don't know. I can hear someone in there with my husband.

[Hilmar Tönnesen, with a cigar in his mouth, comes in by the door on the right, but stops at the sight of so many women.]

HILMAR TÖNNESEN. Oh…er…I beg your pardon.


MRS BERNICK. It's all right, Hilmar; come in. You aren't disturbing us. Did you want anything?

ISBN: 9780141195216
ISBN-10: 0141195215
Series: Popular Penguins
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 372
Published: 28th June 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 18.0 x 11.2  x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.21
Edition Number: 1