Critical Evaluation

(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The last of Henrik Ibsen’s social dramas, Rosmersholm gives readers a glimpse of the psychological studies he was to write later. In this play, Ibsen continues the attempt to arouse his readers to raise themselves above the mass, not to be pulled down to the level of the popular majority. This work is written with the dramatist’s usual skill and ranks with his other great plays.

Rosmersholm is literally the home of Rosmer, but in keeping with the temper of the play, the title actually signifies a spiritual homecoming for Johannes Rosmer. His life, both personal and political, is stormy. Almost without realizing it, he finds himself associated with unpopular political causes and movements by his friendship with Ulric Brendel and Peter Mortensgard. In a similar vein, his relationship with Rebecca West, after his wife Beata’s suicide, further alienates him from the mainstream. Former friends and colleagues—notably Rector Kroll—desert him, forsake him, and betray him. His admission of religious lapse only exacerbates the situation. When all of his life seems to tumble about him like a house of cards, Rosmer seeks reassurance by asking Rebecca to make the ultimate sacrifice of her life. At the decisive moment, Rosmer elects to join her in suicide. In so doing, Rosmer finds his home—his spiritual home, Rosmersholm—that formerly eluded him.

In reality, Rosmer only toys with politics. He does not have the committed...

(The entire section is 504 words.)