Article Title

Nietzsche, Georg Brandes, and Ibsen's Master Builder


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

At the heart of The Master Builder abides the unresolvable conflict between freedom and responsibility. This preoccupation was certainly not new to Ibsen in 1892. As early as 1866 he had explored Brand's uncompromising self-assertion and the catastrophic results of megalomania. And Ghosts (1881), Rosmersholm (1886), and Hedda Gabler (1890) continue and expand this theme right up through 1891 when Ibsen now settled again in Norway began work on The Master Builder. Nevertheless there is something unique about The Master Builder that deserves special attention. In no other Ibsen play does the protagonist's self-assertion so much resemble a "will to power." My choice of the phrase is deliberate since I believe that The Master Builder reveals many remarkable correspondences with Nietzsche's fundamental ideas. It is impossible to know exactly how deeply Nietzsche's thought affected lbsen, but if we remain attentive to the possibility of an influence a parallelism of idea and structure emerges which may help to clarify many of the play's most vexing problems of action, motivation, and character.

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