Why and how does Ase die in Ibsen's "Peer Gynt"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having run off with the bride, Ingrid, Peer has incurred a heavy fine from the villagers.  Because he is in hiding, it is his mother Ase who must pay this fine.  She does so, but it leaves her with nothing, and she becomes ill from destitution.  She dies, but not before Peer has an opportunity to visit her again.  Like Solveig, the farmer's daughter, she is forgiving of Peer and happy to see him before she passes.

This exchange with his mother, and her mother's sacrifice for him, reflects both the theme of love and the theme of gender in relationship to love.  It is love that allows Peer to survive as long as he does - his mother's sacrifice and Solveig's sacrifice keeps Peer safe from some of the forces that would have harmed him.  It is the Great Boyg who backs off because Peer is loved by women, and this supports the second theme - it is women in this story that love.  Solveig and Ase show the loyalty women have when they love, while Peer demonstrates a negative image of men's inability to put love above their own selfish concerns.  Ultimately - based on the Great Boyg's reaction - Ibsen is stressing the value of women here.

 

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Peer Gynt

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