Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 483

The Lady from the Sea is a play written in 1888 by renowned Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen. It tells the story of Ellida, a lighthouse keeper’s daughter, who needs to make a life altering decision: Remain with her current husband or explore the world with a seaman who has captured her heart in the past?
Ellida is a woman who grew up by the sea and loving everything about it—its smell, its horizon and its endless width, its freedom. This suggest that one of the themes of the play might be the never-ending yearning for freedom and adventure, metaphorically painted with the sea.

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Ellida is married to Dr. Wangel, a widower with two daughters, but feels very distant to him, especially after the tragic death of their son who died as a baby. She often gets lost in her own thoughts and imagines a life outside her marriage. This is mainly because of her past love, a seaman to whom she promised her heart years before she married Dr. Wangel. The sailor promised her that he would return for her, and when he does, Ellida finds herself yearning for his affection, but at the same time hates being controlled by her inner desire. By the end of the play, Ellida must decide whether she will remain with her husband or go with her sailor. In other words, she must choose between her past and her present. By making this choice, Ellida will also consequentially decide whether she will follow her heart, or more accurately her desire, or will she respect her duty and her responsibility as a wife. Thus, the influence our past has on our future is also a recurring theme in the play, as it often is in many of Ibsen's works.

There are also some mythical elements in the play. Ibsen draws his inspiration...

(The entire section contains 483 words.)

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