Anton Chekhov, along with Ibsen and August Strindberg, is widely considered to be one of the three most influential playwrights in early modern drama. Like Ibsen's Brand, Chekhov's The Seagull, originally published in 1895, deliberately goes against the stage conventions of the day. Instead of building the dramatic action as the play goes on, Chekhov reduces it. Instead of introducing one major protagonist, Chekhov introduces several. The play also borrows the type of overt symbolism recognized in Ibsen's plays.
Ibsen's A Doll House, originally published in Norwegian in 1879 and translated into English in 1889 as A Doll's House, is one of Ibsen's most famous and most controversial plays. The story concerns the oppression and liberation of a woman in a middle-class marriage and was ahead of its time in its promotion of women's rights.
Peer Gynt (1867), the play Ibsen wrote directly after Brand, is in many ways exactly the opposite of the earlier play, as evidenced by their respective title characters. Brand is a devout pastor, while Peer Gynt is a storyteller and liar. Peer Gynt also employs a much lighter tone than the heavyhanded religious feeling in Brand. The latter play is considered by many to be the single most definitive work that represents life in Norway at the time.
In the late 1300s, a poet named William Langland wrote three versions of a Middle English poem, ‘‘The Vision of Piers Plowman.’’ In modern translations, the title of the poem has often been shortened to ‘‘Piers Plowman.’’ The poem features a title character who has many religious experiences—through the form of several dream visions—and who ultimately rebels against the corruption that he finds in both the religion and...
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