Famous Norwegian playwright, and celebrated as a national symbol by Norwegians. Many of Ibsen's plays were critiques of the morality of his time, residing very far to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism and often having No Ending in a traditional storytelling sense. A noteworthy example is A Dolls House, about a housewife and mother of three who has been taking deceptive means to support her family by herself. Her husband never suspects, but treats her as a child in a big toy house (hence A Doll's House). The play as Ibsen wrote it ended with Nora flat-out leaving her husband after he reveals how he thinks of her: the last sound of the play is described as "the most famous door slam in the history of theater." However, for his German audience, Ibsen was pressured into writing a new ending, where the now self-assured and defiant Nora slips back into her meek role as a housewife when she is reminded of her children. Both endings are usually included in translations of the script, albeit with the German ending in significantly smaller letters.
Ibsen had a notable rivalry with Swedish playwright August Strindberg, who often accused Ibsen of stealing his ideas (claiming that Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, for example, was a ripoff of his own Miss Julie). Ibsen, delighted by the notion of having an archenemy, hung a huge portrait of a glowering Strindberg over his desk, and said that it helped him concentrate.
- Peer Gynt (1867)
- Emperor and Galilean (1873)
- Considered to be Ibsen's magnum opus. Even so, it's criminally under-appreciated, even considering the whole Hitler thing.
- A Dolls House (1879)
- Ghosts (1881)
- Features the same disease as A Doll's House, and a very dark take on Incest Is Relative.
- Plus a famous No Ending. The curtain drops while Mrs. Alving is trying to decide whether or not to euthanize her now-comatose son. When asked by his English translator what he thought happens after that, he replied, "I wouldn't dream of answering such an important question. What do you think?"
- After some critics reviled A Doll's House, Ibsen wrote Ghosts partly to show what can happen to a woman who stays with a deadbeat husband. Contemporary critical reception for Ghosts was far worse than for A Doll's House.
- Includes a very cryptic Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
- An Enemy of the People (1882)
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Inverted. Almost everywhere, and especially here, Ibsen's theme is The Complainer is Always Right.
- The Wild Duck (1884)
- Hedda Gabler (1890)
- The Master Builder (1892)