Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ibsen on the Aristocracy

Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People polarized audiences in 1882 with its praise of aristocracy. However Ibsen’s definition of aristocracy was very specific. The following is taken from a speech for the Trondhjem Workers Association on June 14, 1885, as quoted in Michael Meyer’s biography Ibsen.

“There is still much to be done in this country before we can be said to have achieved full freedom. But our present democracy scarcely has the strength to accomplish that task. An element of aristocracy must enter into our political life, or government, our members of parliament and our press.

I am of course not thinking of aristocracy of wealth, of leanring, or even of ability or talent. I am thinking of aristocracy of character, of mind and of will. That alone can make us free. …

And this aristocracy… will come to us from two sources, the only two sections of society which have not yet been corrupted by party pressure. It will come from our women and from our working men. The reshaping of social conditions which is now being undertaken in Europe is principally concerned with the future status of the workers and of women. That is what I am hoping and waiting for, and what I shall work for with all my might.”

An Enemy of the People runs May 4-30.
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

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