Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*North Country

*North Country. Four of the five acts of the play are set in various locations in the far north, presumably Norway and surrounding regions. Ibsen is intentionally vague about setting, however, in order to suggest the fairy-tale quality of his drama. Farms, towns, and woodlands serve a dual purpose. They are realistic locations in which much of the action takes place, but they are simultaneously places where Peer Gynt’s imaginative life is realized. Trolls, elves, and other fantastic creatures populate these regions. Thus, setting comes to symbolize the state of mind of the hero as he strives to become successful, respected, and powerful.

*North Africa

*North Africa. The fourth act of Peer Gynt is set principally in Morocco and Egypt, where the hero’s wanderings take him and give him opportunity to interact with other tycoons and attempt to solve the modern riddle of the Sphinx on the meaning of life. Gynt’s astute answer to that riddle lands him in a Cairo madhouse. Through this radical shift in locale, Ibsen further suggests the epic nature of his play, emphasizing the foolish dreams of his hero to become emperor of the world.