Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Ice church

Ice church. Naturally formed, domelike place of peace made entirely of ice that is the main setting of acts 1 and 5. Located high in an unspecified region of the mountains of Scandinavia, this “church” symbolizes the inflexible side of Christianity and materially exemplifies Brand’s belief that salvation must come through total suffering and sacrifice. Predictably, this religion is not merely cold and heartless, but also ruthlessly unrelenting.

Village church

Village church. Presumably, a small, Lutheran state church. While this church is meant to be the center of village life, religion here has grown lifeless and ritualistic and meaningless. Henrik Ibsen uses it to symbolize the lack of warmth and love among Christians. It is thus torn down by Brand and his followers.

New church

New church. Replacement for the previous village church. Built by Brand, the mayor, and the village people, this new building and new church are immediately rejected by them at the opening ceremony and the key is thrown into the river. It is meant to be a church where all the congregants will worship God in an “all or nothing” fashion; however, this proves impossible after Brand realizes that God is one of love and not of law.

Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

Charles Darwin
In November 1859, the English naturalist Charles Darwin published his book, On the Origin of Species, and...

(The entire section is 494 words.)

Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

Verse Drama
Ibsen wrote his play as a verse drama, also known as a dramatic poem, a play that is composed entirely of lines of...

(The entire section is 734 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

Late 1850s-Mid1860s: Denmark and Norway face unification issues, which eventually factor into the two wars in Northern Europe over the...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

Ibsen is not the only Norwegian who left the country in the nineteenth century. Between 1815 and 1915, tens of millions of Norwegians...

(The entire section is 276 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

Anton Chekhov, along with Ibsen and August Strindberg, is widely considered to be one of the three most influential playwrights in early...

(The entire section is 413 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Bradbrook, M. C., Ibsen, The Norwegian: A Revaluation, Archon Books, 1966, p. 43.

Deer, Irving,...

(The entire section is 488 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bellquist, John E. “Ibsen’s Brand and Når vi døde vågner: Tragedy, Romanticism, Apocalypse.” Scandinavian Studies 55, no. 4 (Autumn, 1983): 345-370. A discussion of Brand’s extreme idealism, which causes him to sacrifice the interests of his family members as well as his own life and happiness. Bellquist regards Brand as a typical Aristotelian tragic hero.

Eikeland, P. J. Ibsen Studies. New York: Haskell House, 1934. A collection of four essays. The essay on Brand, a particularly good introductory discussion for the general reader, emphasizes Brand’s Christianity, his willingness to admit to error, and his commitment to following his conscience.

Hurt, James. Catiline’s Dream: An Essay on Ibsen’s Plays. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972. A survey of Ibsen’s works. Contains a good discussion of Brand’s spiritual struggles and the opposition between love and will as organizing principles in life.

Lyons, Charles R. Henrik Ibsen: The Divided Consciousness. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1972. A volume with studies of seven Ibsen plays. The essay on Brand discusses the play’s tension between the spiritual and the carnal.

Sohlich, Wolfgang. “Ibsen’s Brand: Drama of the Fatherless Society.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 3, no. 2 (Spring, 1989): 87-105. A discussion of Brand’s family relationships as a key to Ibsen’s depiction of the social transformation at the time. The article relies heavily on the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.