Existentialist Traits In Works Of Henrik Ibsen

1451 words - 6 pages

Existentialism is a major twentieth century continental European philosophical movement. The label was inspired by the tendency of some of the writers like Kierkegaard, Heidegger , Sartre and Nietzsche to use the term "existence" for a kind of being or life unique, in their view, to human beings. Only in the case of human beings is the conduct of their life an "issue" for them; only they can "stand out" - exstare, the Latin word from which "exist" comes - from their lives and reflect upon them; and only they have the capacity freely to shape their lives. Though Existentialism can appear in a number of different forms, the focal point as Jean Paul Sartre puts it is "existence precedes essence". The existentialists are of the view that as there is not pre-determined course of human life, they are only what they make themselves. This gives human beings a freedom to choose. Human beings have to make choices or are rather "condemned " to make choices and bear their consequences. Every act is conscious and so all the responsibility falls on their shoulders with no one to rely on and thus give rise to feelings of despair and anxiety. All of which had been sensitively explored earlier in the century by such literary figures as Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) and Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and can seen to be already an abiding concern in the works of Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906).The Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen a was an advocator of individualism and was against the social norms which shape the lives of human beings. His characters live themselves out in the spirit of reckless and vehement self-assertion - superman and superwomen. Ibsen was a believer in freedom to will. Many of his characters can be seen in this light who reject to be shaped by some force outside their own will..In his famous and controversial play "A Doll's House" the character of Nora sheds the cloak of "being-for-others" and set out in a search for being-for-self. She says in the end "we both must be perfectly free". As Nietzsche's ideal of human personality combined the virtues of the warrior and the independent thinker and it preferred the difficult life to that of an easy one , in similar way Nora has to leave her shelter and get out in the open to find her self and think of what she is.Helmer on the other hand can be see as a victim of "bad faith" who goes on to follow himself identifying too completely and mechanically with a fixed role that absolves him from having to face up to decisions and surrenders to the role which society has coined for him letting the norms dictate him.Ibsen shows the struggle and "nothingness" of life in his verse play "Peer Gynt". The play echo's many of the characteristics of existentialism. Peer Gynt ,the protagonist of the play , starts out as a highly imaginative, irresponsible youth to find himself only to know in the end that he has no self. He often misquotes proverbs or scripture to justify his actions. The play poses many questions , religious and...

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