Lady from the Sea

I have been reading some secondary literature on a lesser-known Ibsen play, Lady from the Sea. Seeing as I am supposed to be teaching my students about it, I figured I should have at least something other than my own impressions to go on. One interesting thing that came up was the fact that this play has sometimes been staged as a comedy, and I must say, that makes a lot of sense. In particular, the character of Lyngstrand, a young man who imagines himself a tortured artists, strikes me as comical. Within quick succession, he asks two young maidens if they will "think fondly of me" as he sets off on his artistic quest to the south. It seems to me in fact that Ibsen may well be making fun of HC Andersen in this character. The other artist charcter is likewise rather comical, spending days painting every detail of his work, except the central figure.  Toril Moi however interpreted these critiques of the artist ethic as part of Ibsen's core of radical thought, his glee over the washing-away of all the old conventions to make room for something new. Thus it is that this young man is dying of consumption that is the salient point. It is not funny, but it does give one a basis for genuine optimism.

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