Places Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 262

Solness home

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Solness home. The town, or village, in which the home is located is not named but may be envisaged as within the vicinity of Trondheim, which lies on the west coast of Norway. Slightly northeast of Trondheim lies Størdalshansen, which could be the actual setting of the play. West of this town, on the other side of the fjord, is Stranda; and well northeast of this town on the upper part of the fjord is Levanger. Løvstrand, representing the future, is where the master builder wants to build a villa. Lysanger, the past, is the scene of triumph: There, ten years earlier, against extreme odds, he crowned with a wreath the highest point of the tower of a building he had constructed. The thirteen-year-old Hilde Wangel, who witnessed this event with transcendent pleasure, comes to the Solness home to exact from Solness the fulfillment of a promise she claims he made at that time, namely, to make her a princess and build her a castle. The promise is translated into Solness’s wreathing the tower of his newly built home. He wreathes the tower at Hilde’s insistence and to her joy but then falls to his death. The location of the home, below the mountains and below, or south of, the scene of his past triumph, comports with Solness’s situation as a relatively successful man (a master builder but not an architect) who will die attempting the impossible, that is, to repeat his triumph, rather than go on to old age while younger professionals surpass him.

Historical Context

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 425

Realism
In the late nineteenth century, playwrights turned away from what they considered the artificiality of melodrama to a focus on the commonplace in the context of everyday contemporary life. They rejected the flat characterizations and unmotivated violent action typical of melodrama. Their work, along with much of the experimental fiction written during that period, adopted the tenets of realism, a new literary movement that took a serious look at believable characters and their sometimes problematic interactions with society.

To accomplish this goal, realistic drama focuses on the commonplace and eliminates the unlikely coincidences and excessive emotionalism of melodrama. Dramatists like Henrik Ibsen discard traditional sentimental theatrical forms as they chronicle the strengths and weaknesses of ordinary people confronting difficult social problems, like the restrictive conventions nineteenth-century women suffered. Writers who embraced realism use settings and props that reflect their characters’ daily lives and realistic dialogue that replicates natural speech patterns.

Anna-Marie Taylor, in her overview on Ibsen for the Reference Guide to World Literature, comments that the author’s realism centered on middleclass manners. She argues that his plays effectively deflated ‘‘bourgeois self-confidence’’ as they suggested that the ‘‘cosiest and best furnished of drawing rooms could harbour grim secrets, dissatisfaction, and despair.’’ The exposure of deception and restrictions became a main focus of his social dramas, especially A Doll House and Pillars of Society. Later, when his plays became more experimental, Ibsen incorporated realistic techniques into a more symbolic structure.

Expressionism
Dramatists during the early decades of the twentieth century also adopted the techniques of another new literary movement. expressionism eschewed the realists’ attention to verisimilitude and instead employed experimental methods that tried to objectify the inner experiences of human beings. Influenced by the theories of Freud, playwrights like August Strindberg used nonrealistic devices that distorted and sometimes oversimplified human actions in order to explore the depths...

(The entire section contains 1633 words.)

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