Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Wangel’s house

Wangel’s house. Home of the prominent Dr. Wangel. Stage directions introduce the house, which is situated in a sleepy Norwegian town that has been kept from the wilder sea by protective fjords. Almost all the action of the play takes place not in the house proper but in the various corners of the garden, from which one can see a road with trees on either side along the water’s edge. Between the trees can be seen the fjord and the high mountain peaks in the distance. The fact that the open sea can never be directly seen strongly affects Wangel’s wife Ellida, who cannot adjust to the domestic world represented by her husband’s garden.


*Fjords (fee-yohrds). Long, narrow inlets of the sea along Norway’s coast that can be seen from Dr. Wangel’s house. The stage directions constantly reinforce the fact that while the open sea itself cannot be seen, its proximity is indicated by the fjords. Ellida is only well and happy when she is bathing in the fjords’ waters, although she complains that they are brackish and tepid. Instead, she yearns for the greater sea, the reality of which is indicated by a shadowy figure known as Friman, who materializes in Wangel’s garden to tempt her to a new and dangerous life at sea, beyond the secure Norwegian villages and fjords.