The Lady from the Sea

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For the painting, see Edvard Munch. For the 1929 British film, see The Lady from the Sea (1929 film). For the 1953 television film, see The Lady from the Sea (1953 film). For the 1961 television film, see The Lady from the Sea (1961 film).
The Lady from the Sea
Fruen fra havet by A. Golovin 01.jpg
Written by Henrik Ibsen
Characters Ellida Wangel
Dr Wangel
The Stranger
Hilde Wangel
Bolette Wangel
Arnholm
Lyngstrand
Ballestad
Date premiered 12 February 1889
Place premiered Oslo and Weimar (simultaneous Norwegian and German premieres)
Original language Norwegian
Subject Marriage, freedom
Genre Drama
Setting A town by a fjord

The Lady from the Sea (Norwegian: Fruen fra havet) is a play written in 1888 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen inspired by the ballad Agnete og Havmanden.[1] The drama is notable in the Ibsen corpus for introducing the portrayal of Hilde Wangel who is again portrayed in Ibsen's later play The Master Builder. The character portrayal of Hilde Wangel has been portrayed twice in contemporary film as a culturally relevant portrayal, most recently in the 2014 film titled A Master Builder.

Synopsis[edit]

This symbolic play is centred on a lady called Ellida. She is the daughter of a lighthouse-keeper, and grew up where the fjord met the open sea; she loves the sea. She is married to Doctor Wangel, a doctor in a small town in West Norway (in the mountains). He has two daughters (Bolette and Hilde) by his previous wife (widowed), and he and Ellida had a son who died as a baby. This put big strains on the marriage. Wangel, fearing for Ellida’s mental health, has invited up Arnholm, Bolette’s former tutor and now the headmaster of a school, in hope that he can help Ellida. However, Arnholm thinks that it is Bolette waiting for him and he proposes. She agrees to marry her former teacher, because she sees this as her only opportunity to get out into the world.

Some years earlier Ellida was deeply in love and engaged to a sailor, but because he murdered his captain he had to escape. Nevertheless, he asked her to wait for him to come and fetch her. She tried to break the engagement but he had too great a hold over her. The sailor then returns all these years later to claim her. However she then has to choose between her love or her husband. Dr Wangel finally recognizes her freedom to choose since he understands that he has no other options. This goes in his favour as she then chooses him. The play ends with the sailor leaving and Ellida and Wangel taking up their lives together again.

List of characters[edit]

  • Doctor Wangel
  • Ellida
  • Bolette
  • Hilde
  • Arnholm
  • Lyngstrand
  • Ballested
  • The Stranger

Adaptations[edit]

  • Kvinnan från havet (The Woman from the Sea) is a ballet by choreographer Birgit Cullberg, and based on Ibsen's play. The ballet was premiered at the Royal Opera, Stockholm, with ballerina and actress Kari Sylwan in the title role.
  • Vom Meer. Opera with music by Alexander Muno and a libretto by Francis Hüsers. World premiere: 29 April 2011, Opernzelt, Heidelberg
  • The Lady from the Sea. Opera by Craig Armstrong (music) and Zoë Strachan (libretto). World premiere: 29 August 2012, Edinburgh International Festival

References[edit]

  1. ^ Per Schelde Jacobsen and Barbara Fass Leavy, Ibsen's Forsaken Merman: Folklore in the Late Plays (New York: New York University Press, 1988).

External links[edit]