Autobiographical features and origins

Childhood

The famous Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, author of the play A Doll’s House, was born on March 20, 1828 in the town of Skien, the capital of Telemark . He grows up in a wealthy family with four siblings. His father, a respected merchant with great social influence, owns a large house in the city center with servants. The family often receives guests. The author can therefore draw on his own experience and realistically describe life in the home of an economically well-off family, whose house is always open to visitors.

In 1835, the wroter’s father, the merchant Knud Ibsen, becomes insolvent due to bad business and has to declare bankruptcy. The family has to sell the villa in the city of Skien and move to the family summer residence outside the city on the remote farm Venstøp. The businessman is socially shunned and becomes an alcoholic. Ibsen later treats these drastic events as the main theme in his dramas, in which the characters, like Torvald in the drama A Doll's House, are afraid of social decline. Through the experience of his father's bankruptcy, Ibsen also adopts a very cautious attitude to debt throughout his life, which is also reflected in Torvald.

After the family's social decline, the 7-year-old seems withdrawn, but still likes to play puppet shows for the neighborhood children. He attends middle school in his hometown of Skien. Ibsen's mother withdraws and expresses herself artistically. In addition to painting, she also makes puppets, which appear as leitmotifs in the play A Doll's House (see analysis "Symbols and leitmotifs")

Made in Italy

In 1864, Ibsen was given a travel grant by the Norwegian parliament. In addition, the well-known Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson organized a collection of money for the author, which enabled him to travel to Italy. In the following four years, he lived in Rome and Genzano in difficult financial circumstances. Here he first wrote the drama Brand, which he published in 1865 and whose great success earned him an annual poet's fee from the Norwegian parliament.

Overall, the stay in Italy exerts a great positive influence on Ibsen's work, who also completes his play Peer Gynt here. The Norwegian author remains in the south with his family until 1868, before moving to Germany and living in exile in Munich and Dresden.

In 1875 Ibsen moves with his family to Munich, where he now devotes himself more and more to current social problems and incorporates these contemporary issues into his works. This marks the beginning of the high point of his creative work and his success. In Munich, Ibsen's wife Suzannah Daae Ibsen meets a family friend, the young writer Laura Kieler, who tells Suzannah her story, which is similar to Nora's . She has also experienced great complications after taking on illegal loans (see "The story of Laura Kieler as a model fo...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of PrimeStudyGuides.com, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in