I loved it. I searched for a recorded play version to watch and found none. Would anyone know of one? In google image searches while looking for an image to use with the starting post, I saw plenty of stills of scenes from staged versions and it whet my appetite to see this performed. I imagine it must be a terribly tricky play to produce, and I read that one version was an over-five-hour, two night affair. Scenes were so short and the staging seems so difficult in reading that I'm very curious to see it pulled off.
I found it to be weighty, and rather liked how it blended scenes of folk-tale fantasy with scenes of utter realism. For every whimsical troll-realm scene, there was a heart-breaking scene of Ase dying in poverty and despair.
I'd like to read some other discussion of the play to delve into it a bit more, if not only here then also in a study guide or something, so I'm really just shooting arrows into the darkness here right now with my insights, but for starters, I thought Peer was a complex character. I found him to be naive and simple-minded in some ways, and then clever and witty in others.
He certainly was selfish. I liked the theme mentioned directly at the end of the play - troll vs man - living in selfish haze vs living fully as yourself while caring for others - to be simple yet powerful. I like that it pinpointed in a simple way a distinction that many people easily overlook. It didn't bother with selflessness or the range of possibilities, but stuck to complete and utter selfishness vs some caring for others. And I liked how it laid down the verdict of this selfishness not being as terrible a thing such as, say, murder, but rather an easier trap to fall into, as the Button Moulder pointed out that most people "nowadays" ended up in a similar position of being melted into nothingness for violating these lesser sins. I thought he was basically saying that a soul is worth nothing if it doesn't care for others.
As to the vagueness of the ending, I thought that perhaps it was the hope that Ibsen was saying is always there for all of us until the last, which as Hamlet53 said is probably due to the Christian influence on the play, but I think it would work philosophically without Christianity too. So even though Peer has been terribly selfish his entire life, perhaps at the end he could still change before it's too late.
Of the Norse mythology Ibsen wrapped the play up in, I enjoyed that he used these simplistic tales to craft what I at least consider to be a very complex play. Even psychologically. At first we are presented Peer with no explanation, he just is. But then later on the play really delves into what made him this way - an alcoholic father who wasted away the family money and left him and his mother poor, a mother who coddled him and used fantasy to help them escape their existence and reality.
Ase I found to be possibly the most interesting. I was wondering if the play meant for her use of fantasy with Peer as a youngster to be a bad thing? I hope not, but I didn't crack what Ibsen meant by that. Obviously with Peer he took it to an extreme and used it to stay selfish and escape reality his entire life. Perhaps the caution was that she only used that, and didn't school him as well in the realities of life?
One part I didn't exactly get - what was the purpose of the man who cut off his finger to escape the military, and the subsequent eulogy by the pastor near the end?