Tuesday, 6 December 2011

When We Dead Awaken by Henrik Ibsen (3/5)

I downloaded this from Project Gutenberg, who never have any synopses and I couldn't find one that wasn't full of spoilers, so I’m going to be lazy and refer to Wikipedia. 

I say: I really want to see this on stage because I’m convinced that I’ve missed something. This is the second play I’ve read by Ibsen, the first one being A Doll House, which I thought was ok, but now I’m wondering

do I not like Ibsen or do I just not understand him.

The reason I read this was because of the title, I like dark imagery, and there was quite a bit of that in here. Irena is convinced that she died when Professor Arnold Rubek finished using her as his muse, and is now walking around as a living dead. In a way, she was my favourite character, not just because of her melancholy but because she seemed to be the only one who really knew what she wanted -  

apart from maybe Ulfheim but who cares about him.

I wasn’t quite able to decide if Irena was really mad or just very emo pretentious suffering for the sake of it. Either way, she had the best lines. Gems like this:

PROFESSOR RUBEK [Sadly and earnestly.]: There is something hidden behind everything you say.
IRENE: How can I help that? Every word is whispered into my ear.

It’s been a few months since I read this, and my memory being what it is (i.e. nonexistent), I don’t really have that much more to say about the other characters. I recall Maia as coming across as spoiled and childish and Professor Rubek as cold and distant, but who knows really.

I’ll forever be on the lookout for this being performed on stage as I’m convinced that I’ll be able to better understand it then – it’s how it usually works with me. I may also read it again in a few months to see how I feel about it then.

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