32 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen


Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1881

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Important Quotes

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“Through the glass wall a gloomy fjord landscape is faintly visible, veiled by steady rain.”

(Act I, Page 7)

Ibsen describes the weather of the setting in Act I. Using the words “gloomy” and “veiled,” Ibsen sets the mood for the play as ominous and secretive. The setting of the play mirrors the obfuscation and secrets that haunt the Alving family.

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“Well, I seem to find explanation and confirmation of all sorts of things I myself have been thinking. For that is the wonderful part of it, Pastor Manders—there is really nothing new in these books, nothing but what most people think and believe. Only most people either don't formulate it to themselves, or else keep quiet about it.”

(Act I, Page 15)

Helen defends the secular books she reads to Pastor Manders. While the pastor criticizes the books as immoral, Helen has found self-assurance by reading the work of others who feel disconnected from religious strictures. These books signal Helen’s growing dissatisfaction with social conventions and her burgeoning desire to break free.

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“People would be only too ready to interpret our action as a sign that neither you nor I had the right faith in a Higher Providence.”

(Act I, Page 18)

Pastor Manders details to Helen the reasons why they should not insure the orphanage—primarily because he is afraid of what others will think of him. Manders decides not to insure the orphanage, a decision that he regrets after the orphanage burns down. Through Manders, Ibsen highlights the hypocrisy of religious figures who tout Christian principles of humility while maintaining an undeterred sense of self-absorption.