Monday, 30 April 2012

The Lady from the Sea

Genre: Drama
Date of Reading: 03/03/2007
Playwright: Henrik Ibsen
Translated by: R. Farquharson Sharp, Eleanor Marx-Aveling and Linda Hannas
Publisher: J. M. Dent & Sons LTD
Place: London
Year: 1958

         Ellida Wangel, the second wife of Dr. Wangel, is called 'the lady from the sea' due to her special attachment to it. Her stepdaughters - Bolette and Hilde - are not in good terms with her (a fate under which all stepmothers suffer). To cheer her up Wangel requests the presence of Arnholm, Bolette's former teacher. He proposes to Bolette and she accepts as she sees it as her only opportunity to enter into the outside world.
         Ellida has a secret; years ago she was in love with a strange man from a ship. When he murders the captain (for that crime he had to leave abruptly), he marries her secretly and takes her ring with him. After a year or so she married Wangel; she felt that their son has the eyes of the strange man. But the child didn't pass his young age.
         Stranger returns and asks her to come back; Wangel protests, this puts Ellida into a dilemma and she decides to leave her husband. Wangel undergoes a moral transformation and lets her go. This makes her reconsider her decision; she stays, the stranger goes back.

Rating: Not Bad

--- Theme of the play is the psychological development of an idle woman who has nothing particular to occupy her life. She frets at the restrictions of wifely duty upon which her husband would insist; until, when he realises the situation sufficiently to remove his restrictions, and the idea of compulsion is gone, the woman's mental attitude correspondingly alters. She now finds no attraction in forbidden fruit, and a strong attraction in her obvious duty. (copied from introduction of the book itself)

         A play is to be seen, not to be read and so obviously this has not made much an impression on me. Ibsen's plays argue for female liberation; here Dr. Wangel can be seen as a reversal of Torvald Helmer in Ibsen's own 'A Doll's House', as he redefines the nature of marriage by acknowledging Ellida's right to choose. Bolette who builds a relation based on antique notions of female dependence reminds us of the opposite stand.

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