Halvard Solness, the master builder. Although he is no longer young, he is evidently attractive to women: His wife, Aline, his bookkeeper, Kaia Fosli, and Hilda Wangel, a young woman from a nearby village who had seen him only once ten years earlier, are all in love with him. Solness became successful after a tragedy, the death of his infant twin sons, caused him to turn from building churches to building houses. He has achieved success through working for Knut Brovik, whom he surpassed, put down, and now employs. He has two fears: fear of the younger generation, which will treat him as he has treated Brovik, and fear of heights. The fear of heights interferes with his hanging a wreath on the tower of each new building, a task he now delegates to a workman. When vivacious Hilda Wangel appears to collect “the kingdom” that he promised her ten years earlier after he had hung his last wreath on the church tower in her village, Solness is at last overpowered by her stronger personality. Through Hilda’s influence, he approves plans designed by the young architect Ragnar Brovik and climbs a scaffolding to place a wreath on a new house. Both courses mean oblivion for him. He falls into a quarry and is crushed.
Hilda Wangel, a fanciful young woman from the village of Lysanger. Little more than a child at the time, Hilda had fallen in love with Solness when he hung a wreath on the church tower in Lysanger. He has remained her hero. She is a charming young woman, filled with a quality the playwright calls “joy in life.” When Solness falls into the quarry, Hilda is exalted. She cries, “But he mounted right to the top. And I heard...
(The entire section is 700 words.)