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The Master Builder

Henrik Ibsen

Book Overview: 

Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, is about architect Halvard Solness, who despite personal tragedy (including the death of his two sons) has risen to the top of his profession. He has succeeded partly through ruthless competition and exploitation and partly through a seeming ability to force his will on others. His unhappy wife Aline mourns for their lost life, and resents his interest in various young women, including his bookkeeper Kaia Fosli. Solness disregards the ambitions of other architects, including Knut Brovik and his son Ragnar, and seeks solace in the advice of family physician and friend Dr. Herdal. With the entrance of Hilda Wangel, a young woman whom he met as a child ten years ago, his life acquires a new focal point, one that will mean the end of him.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .KAIA.

[Passionately, clasping hands and holding them out towards him.] Oh, you know very well there is only one person I care for now! I shall never care for any one else.

SOLNESS.

Yes, you say that. And yet you go away from me—leave me alone here with everything on my hands.

KAIA.

But could I not stay with you, even if Ragnar—?

SOLNESS.

[Repudiating the idea.] No, no, that is quite impossible. If Ragnar leaves me and starts work on his own account, then of course he will need you himself.

KAIA.

[Wringing her hands.] Oh, I feel as if I could not be separated from you! It's quite, quite impossible!

SOLNESS.

Then be sure you get those foolish notions out of Ragnar's head. Marry him as much as you please—[Alters his tone.] I mean—don't let him throw up his good situation with me. For then I can keep you too, my dear Kaia.

KAIA.

Oh yes, how lovely t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I want for once in my life to have power to mould a human destiny.

People are in other rooms, people sitting on sofas and people behind desks. Voices from other rooms and voices carry. People have their destinies as their children in hearts cold ashen wombs worth nothing until it thrown away. I do...more

“It’s a release to know that in spite of everything a premeditated act of courage is still possible”—Hedda

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there"--Chekhov

I love this play. I decided to listen to it since...more

I have a ton of notes on this story. I enjoyed this one from what my notes say. Another English Lit find.

I really enjoyed this play and I really do like Ibsen's writings in general.

The main character, Hedda is something else, that's for sure!

Hedda Gabler is Ibsen's attempt to explore on the male and female inner selves, and how they conduct themselves according to their inner feelings and conflicts while being submissive to social restrictions and obligations. Unlike in A Doll's house, this is done from the perception of self rather...more

Hedda ~~ abrasive and openly sarcastic ~~ why have men tried to own her. She is intelligent. She's well‐born. She's also lethal, as we soon find out. Hedda is willful, insatiable, articulate, but no more demanding of others than she is of herself.

One of the problems with Ibsen's play is that none...more

A couple of summers ago I read all of Ibsen’s plays in translation. My favourites were Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, A Doll’s House, and Rosmersholm. There is something so perfect about Hedda Gabler – whether it is Hedda’s character (her sarcasm, cynicism, her boredom) or the tightly-written narrative. I...more

Ibsens bösartig-melancholische Frauenfiguren sind einfach herrlich. (:
Die Dialoge seiner Dramen sind so spitz und voller Hinterhältigkeiten - sehr lesenswert. Zudem ein großartiges Portrait des bürgerlichen Lebens 1890 in Norwegen.

Ibsen's plays are full of characters unhappy with the life they are socially expected to live and feel a wish to break away from it. A Doll's House is about a woman that chose to break away from such a life upon being disillusioned about it while Ghosts is about a woman who regrets missing the op...more


What is in a text, what was written, what we read, or, in the case of plays, what is acted out?

Continuing my theatre season, I attended a performance of Hedda Gabler, but read the text before hand, and listened in parallel to an excellent dramatized version .

I had watched another performance duri...more

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