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Old 10-20-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
Hamlet53
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So this thread has been sitting out here long enough that some one should say something. Though I am reluctant to be the first as I don't have a lot to offer.

I read that Ibsen originally wrote Peer Gynt as a poem, as a modern fairy tale, and was persuaded later to turn it into a play for the stage. To me that is what it read as, a fairy tale with aspects of an Old Norse saga thrown in. Most fairy tales are morality tales where the protagonist is either rewarded for good behavior or is taught a lesson that bad behavior will lead to eventual misfortune. This is turned upside down in Peer Gynt. Peer remains a selfish immoral character though out yet continually stumbles into good fortune. Even the ending is left ambiguous, will Peer yet escape the fate The Button-moulder intends for him.

There is an overlay of Christianity to Peer Gynt as well. One thing I found amusing is that when Peer is describing his past sins (while making his fortune in Charleston, Carolina) he puts engaging in the trade of African slaves on the same level as shipping idol-images to China. I wonder if Ibsen was being ironic there, though I suppose good Christians at the time Peer Gynt was written would have thought that.

Maybe this poor comment will kick start a real discussion? Honestly I thought some of the other nominations this month would have presented more for discussion. Peer Gynt is very entertaining when staged, especially with the musical score, but as a object for discussion? Let me put a plug in for The Coast of Utopia (Stoppard's complete trilogy that includes Voyage). It was excellent, with Shipwreck and Salvage even better than Voyage, as they moved beyond the emphasis on the Bakunin family.
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