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THE CRITICS - LITERARY CRITICISM AND OPINION
Shakespear had put ourselves on the stage but not our situations....
Ibsen supplies the want left by Shakespear. He gives us not only ourselves
but our situations. The things that
George Bernard Shaw, The Quintessence of Ibsenism, 1913
A DOLL'S HOUSE-ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
A Doll's House almost irresistibly invites sweeping generalizations. It is the first Modern Tragedy, as Ibsen originally named it. The strong divorce play and the social drama are alike descended from it. A Doll's House stands in relation to modern drama as Queen Victoria to the royal families of Europe. It is not Ibsen's greatest play, but it is probably his most striking achievement, in the sense that it changed most decisively the course of literature. Its significance for contemporaries is quite distinct from its permanent significance or, again, from its place in the personal development of Ibsen as an artist.
M. C. Bradbrook, Ibsen the Norwegian, 1948
NORA AS A TRAGIC HEROINE
'The modern tragedy' does not end in ruin, as Ibsen originally had intended,
but in a new start. However, values are destroyed as the whole of Nora's
world collapses. This happens precisely because she is true to the best
in herself. She grows in stature,
Edward Beyer, Ibsen: The Man and His Work, 1980
HEDDA'S POWER TO DOMINATE
Hedda would have made a marvelous queen. She would have been able to
take her place by the side of any king, and she would have enjoyed shaping
the destinies of a community, even a nation.... Hedda knew just what she
could do with another person. She understood what might bring any man
or woman in line with her desires. She could estimate over a considerable
time where the people of her social group would be, given certain influences.
It is probably safe to conclude that her perversion was due to failure
in the realm of her native abilities. The power to rule, to dominate,
and to shape destinies
Theodore Jorgenson, Henrik Ibsen, His Life and Drama, 1963
As soon as she hears the ugly details of Lovborg's accident, Hedda knows she must die. There can be no evasion now. She must die, not to escape the consequences of her involvement with Lovborg-she vehemently rejects Brack's ingratiating offer to hush things up-nor merely to snuff out an existence of insufferable ennui. She must die to redeem the world of spiritual possibility from Lovborg's failure, to restore honour to the Gabler pistol, and to assert herself in an act of exemplary beauty. Dying is an art for Hedda.
Errol Durbach, Ibsen the Romantic, 1982