The Master Builder "The Younger Generation Will Come Knocking At My Door"

Henrik Ibsen

"The Younger Generation Will Come Knocking At My Door"

Context: Halvard Solness, the master-builder of Ibsen's play, is, on one level of interpretation, an opportunist who builds his success upon the misfortunes and ruin of other persons. Although of little talent, except as an entrepreneur, he makes himself a reputation and a fortune as an architect and builder. Actually, the capital with which he starts is his wife's and comes in part from the destruction of her family home. The talent Solness uses is the talent of his former employer, Knut Brovik, and the latter's son, Ragnar. Realizing that his position at the head of his profession is a result of luck and, perhaps, his strange ability to force people and things to his own ends, Solness, mindful of the passage of time and the shortness of life, fears that his position is constantly in danger of being undermined. He has had such great good fortune that he fears that misfortune, when it comes, will be equally great. In a conversation with his friend and family physician, Dr. Herdal, he reveals his fear at having luck so much on his side and how he believes that the younger generation will be the instrument of his downfall:


SOLNESS
It terrifies me–terrifies me every hour of the day. For sooner or later the luck must turn, you see.
DR. HERDAL
Oh nonsense! What should make the luck turn?
SOLNESS
The younger generation.
DR. HERDAL
Pooh! The younger generation! You are not laid on the shelf yet, I should hope. Oh no–your position is probably firmer now than it has ever been.
SOLNESS
The luck will turn, I know it.–I feel the day approaching, Some one or other will take it into his head to say: Give me a chance! And then all the rest will come clamouring after him, and shake their fists at me and shout: Make room–make room–make room! Yes, just you see, doctor–presently the younger generation will come knocking at my door––