Henrik Ibsen

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Consider Henrik Ibsen as a realist, as a naturalist, and as a symbolist.

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First, it might be useful to define realism, naturalism, and the symbolist movement. Then, we can see how Ibsen fits into each category.

Realism is exactly what it sounds like: a style which emphasizes depicting life as it is lived, without pretense or melodrama. In realism, dialogue is natural. Acting styles tend to feel more candid rather than stylized.

Naturalism is a bit like realism in showing life as it is lived, but there is a stronger focus on the influence of genetics and the environment on the individual. Naturalist works often question the existence of free will. After all, if your background defines who you are and how you are most likely to behave, how much freedom do you really have?

The symbolist movement was seen as a reaction to both realism and naturalism. Symbolist art tends to focus on imagination and spirituality—things which cannot be experienced with the senses. Symbolist drama tends to focus on metaphor and, of course, symbolism. It is less interested in gritty...

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