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Sample text

Finally, in When we dead awaken (Nllr vi d~de vllgner, 1899), Ibsen returned yet again to the clash of art and life, vocation and personal happiness. It was a recurrent theme that had preoccupied him throughout his creative life. An ageing sculptor Rubek is confronted by Irene, the woman who was his youthful inspiration but whom he rejected for the sake of artistic and material advancement. He now discovers that what he lost in rejecting her was the only thing that matters in life: the ability to face himself and to respond to others with complete authenticity.

In contrast to the visual austerity of Brand, the physical setting of Peer Gynt is both attractive and stimulating. The play offers a constantly changing kaleidoscope of contrast- 47 Henrik Ibsen ing visual images: the fertile Gudbrandsdal of central Norway, the imaginary kingdom of the trolls, a lUxury yacht at anchor off the coast of North Africa, the Sahara desert, a madhouse in Cairo, a shipwreck off the coast of Norway. For actor and director, there is ample opportunity in Peer Gynt to underline or comment on the action in visual terms.

Eventually it takes the mad gypsy girl Gerd to spell out to him the hubris of which he is guiHy. He sees himself in his heart as a new Messiah come to redeem the world with his 45 Henrik Ibsen suffering. In reality, he is a man whose inability to respond warmly and lovingly to others has driven him away from human society altogether. His last refuge is an ice church, his only companion a deranged gypsy girl who unleashes an avalanche on them both by firing her rifle. As a figure, Brand has towered far above the petty and mean-spirited individuals in his community.

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