The Lady from the Sea Characters
Ibsen’s play The Lady from the Sea is centered around a woman named Ellida. She is the daughter of a lighthouse keeper and, as the title suggests, she is fond of the landscape. Her husband is Doctor Edvard Wangel. He has two daughters, Bolette and Hilde, from his late first wife. Ellida and Edvard did have a son together, but he tragically died as an infant.
A character called The Stranger also plays a large part in the play. He is Ellida’s former lover who, years ago, fled the area after committing a crime. He returns to try to reunite with Ellida, to whom he was once engaged.
Other characters include: Arnholm, who was once both Bolette’s tutor and Ellida’s suitor but who, upon return, falls in love with Bolette and wishes to marry her; Lyngstrand, an aspiring sculptor; and Ballested, an eccentric local painter.
Ellida Wangel, a woman dominated by the sea. She feels stifled in her new home after she marries and goes away from the sea to live in the mountains. She feels strangely drawn to a sailor who had known and loved her years earlier. When he appears again, she feels his hold over her, as well as feeling the conflicting hold of her husband. Left to her own choice, she stays with her husband. She feels that she has retained her sanity by being able to make a choice for herself.
Dr. Wangel, Ellida’s husband, a physician. He tries to understand the strains on his wife’s mind and gives her a verbal release from her vows so that she can decide for herself whether to go with her former suitor or remain with her husband.
Hilda Wangel, Dr. Wangel’s daughters by his first wife. They find their stepmother a difficult person with whom to make friends.
Arnholm, Boletta’s former tutor and another early sweetheart of Ellida. She refused in the past to marry Arnholm because, she said, she already was betrothed.
The stranger, a sailor who has a powerful psychological hold over Ellida because he makes her think she has been betrothed to him in a strange ceremony by the sea. He has murdered a man and is a fugitive from justice. Ellida finally decides to stay with her husband and breaks the hold the stranger has over her mind.
Lyngstrand, a traveling sculptor who stops at the Wangels’ house. His story of a sailor and his wife reawakens in Ellida’s mind memory of the sailor who had betrothed himself to her years earlier.