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John Gabriel Borkman

Henrik Ibsen

Book Overview: 

The Borkman family fortunes have been brought low by the imprisonment of John Gabriel who used his position as a bank manager to illegally speculate with his investors' money. The action of the play takes place eight years after Borkman's release when John Gabriel Borkman, Mrs. Borkman, and her twin sister Ella Rentheim battle over the future of young Erhart Borkman.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .A very rich woman. You don't know her.

  I have heard her name. Mrs. Fanny Wilton, is it not——?

  Yes, quite right.

ELLA RENTHEIM. Erhart has mentioned her several times. Does she live out here now?

MRS. BORKMAN. Yes, she has taken a villa here; she moved out from town some time ago.

ELLA RENTHEIM. [With a slight hesitation.] They say she is divorced from her husband.

  Her husband has been dead for several years.

  Yes, but they were divorced. He got a divorce.

MRS. BORKMAN. He deserted her, that is what he did. I am sure the fault wasn't hers.

  Do you know her at all intimately, Gunhild?Read More

Community Reviews

There are few bright spots in this drama about a disintegrating family. Most important is Erhart's rebellion ("I'm young!") against his manipulative parents, who want to use him to further their own dark ends. The atmosphere in the older generation is as hateful and confined as in more recent Americ