Homework Help

Ibsen wrote several plays concerning social issues. Was Ibsen actually a socialist?

user profile pic

orsolyam | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:41 PM via web

dislike 1 like

Ibsen wrote several plays concerning social issues. Was Ibsen actually a socialist?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:13 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

Socialism is defined as...

...an economic system based on state ownership of capital

In essence, this is a political position. Ibsen is not identified as a socialist. He was a man who was more interested in promoting changes that would improve society: he was not interesting in controlling it. 

The social inequities Ibsen highlighted in his plays were easily recognized...

...Ibsen's audiences...debated the social problems he depicted...

...while contemporary critics have always been more interested in "the philosophical and psychological elements" in Ibsen's plays—and the response of those viewing his plays. 

For example, in A Doll's House, several social problems are addressed. Nora is a repressed housewife: her husband tries to control her every move. She is a member of society who cannot take a loan because she is female. Ibsen also exposes the egotism and elitism of Nora's husband—Torvald Helmer—a successful banker and member of the upper-middle class. Kristine Linde and Nils Krogstad are marginal members of society—struggling to survive, but subject to the whims of a thoughtless culture, represented by Torvald Helmer.

In this instance, Ibsen's play is often seen as a feminist statement. However, Ibsen was not a supporter of the women's movement...

...he only dealt with the problem of women's rights as a facet of the realism within his play. 

Ibsen's view of a woman's place within society was that of mother and housewife, but the playwright had "an eye for justice," and so he used Torvald's dismissive and demeaning behavior of Nora to focus on a common social issue.

Ibsen's desire was not to change the political structure of Norway, but to expose the problems inherent within society. In advocating change, he altered the face of drama. He is known as the "father of modern drama" because his plays were no longer a simple form of entertainment, but...

...a forum for exposing social problems.

Ibsen was not interested in Norway's politics. He was not interested in idealizing the world. His desire was to bring realism to his audiences by portraying realistic characters and social concerns of his day so that steps would be taken in support of those victimized because of gender or social standing.

 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes