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"Realism in Henrik Ibsen's Writing"
Realism in Henrik Ibsen's Writing
Anthony Pacella
Henrik (Johan) Ibsen (1828-1906) was born at Skien, a small lumbering town of southern Norway. His father was a well-known general merchant in the community until 1836, when he suffered the horrible disgrace of going bankrupt.(Ibsen, 8) As a result, he sank into more debt and the family suffered. There was no redeeming the family misfortunes; as soon as he could, aged just 15, Henrik moved to Grimstad. It was there that he began to write. He supported himself meagerly as an apothecary's apprentice while studying nights for admission to the university. As he waited patiently he began to write plays. It was from this first writing that he began a career that would carry him through the nineteenth century and into today.

Writers are often called names. Some of these names aren't so nice. To be called "the father" of something can only mean that you must have what it takes in your writing to define the very term that you are being associated with. Joan Gassner has decided that Henrik Ibsen is "the father of modern drama".(Gassner, 1) But is this title worthy? What is it about Ibsen's work that seems to fit so well into this mold? Also, why is Ibsen so closely tied to realism? These are questions that I hope to answer in the following text. So to begin, we must first define what is realism?

From 1859 to 1900 most of the plays that were being produced were melodramas, spectacle plays, comic operas and vaudevilles. (Wilson, 273). The theatre was alive and well and was taking many different forms. And then something happened. Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 and began to stir up the scientific community. Darwin believed that people were controlled by heredity and environment and that most of human behavior...

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