Discuss the stranger's character in The Lady from the Sea.

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The Lady from the Sea is a play written by Henrik Ibsen, and it was first published in Norwegian. Like many of Ibsen's other plays, The Lady from the Sea is categorized as a mystical psychological drama. In this response, I will briefly outline the character of The Stranger and the significance of this character to the play's main character, a conflicted woman.

Ellida, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, is the play's main character. She is married to a doctor but is also fixated on the sea. This is because in the past, she loved a sailor (The Stranger) with great intensity. As the play progresses, The Stranger returns for her and wants to be with her once more. But when Ellida's husband allows her to leave him if she wishes, she decides to stay within her marriage.

The Stranger is a character marked by his wildness and his insistence on being free. Ellida literally likens him to the sea during the play. This comparison might reflect his uncontrollable nature and the way in which he would offer both beauty and danger to Ellida if she chose to pursue a life with him. The following description of The Stranger by Otto Heller conveys the complexity of The Stranger's characterization:

He dwells outside of the society and the laws of men. Once he slew a man, his own captain at that, yet his conscience is clear, for it was a deed of justice. He is never without a loaded revolver, because death for him would be easier to accept than any restraint of his liberty. Ellida's marriage he ignores, since no formal contract can affect his ways.

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