AT: A Bankruptcy A: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Pf: 1875, Stockholm Pb: 1874 Tr: 1914 G: Drama in 4 acts; Norwegian prose S: Tjaelde's home, Norway, 1870s C: 14m, 3fAlthough the merchant Henning Tjaelde appears to be settled and wealthy and is preparing to invite guests to a lavish banquet, all is not well. He is actually on the verge of bankruptcy, a fact which he hides from his ailing wife and from his two grasping daughters, the haughty Valborg and her older sister Signe, who is engaged to a stupid army officer, Lieutenant Hamar. The banquet goes ahead, satirically parading the local worthies. His lawyer afterwards uncovers his ailing finances and persuades Tjaelde bravely to face up to the situation and to accept the shame of declaring himself bankrupt. Despite his wife's attempt to save him with her life savings, Tjaelde is stripped of his belongings, and angry creditors stone his house. Signe's fiancé abandons her, but Valborg undergoes a change of heart and supports her unhappy father. Three years later the family may be poorer, Tjaelde aged by worry, and his wife now confined to a wheelchair, but they are together and the bankruptcy is discharged. Tjaelde's secretary Sannaes, who has remained loyal throughout, is persuaded to stay on as the husband of Valborg.
AT: A Bankruptcy A: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Pf: 1875, Stockholm Pb: 1874 Tr: 1914 G: Drama in 4 acts; Norwegian prose S: Tjaelde's home, Norway, 1870s C: 14m, 3f
Like Becque's The Crows, The Bankrupt presents a damning picture of how bourgeois society treats its own when they fail. Even though the happy ending weakens the social critique, the huge success of Bjørnson's play across Europe was extremely influential in the development of social drama and encouraged Ibsen to turn from writing historical dramas to his better known domestic dramas like A Doll's House.