A: Henrik Ibsen Pf: 1887, Bergen Pb: 1886 Tr: 1891 G: Trag. in 4 acts; Norwegian prose S: Rosmersholm Estate, western Norway, 1880s C: 4m, 2fJohannes Rosmer, a former pastor, was widowed about one year previously when his wife Beata drowned in the millpond. He has lost his Christian faith, and now believes in a utopia where all humankind will be free. He lives on his estate with his young housekeeper Rebekka West, and regards their friendship as a model of ‘spiritual marriage’. His former wife's brother Rector Kroll accuses Rosmer of having driven Beata to suicide, and Johannes, now believing that she took her life so that he would be free to marry Rebekka, proposes to the young woman. At first jubilant, Rebekka then rejects his proposal and confesses to the two men that it was she that drove Beata to her death. As she prepares to leave, Rebekka tells Rosmer of her former passion for him, which has now become a pure spiritual love. To cleanse them of their guilt and in order to preserve the purity of their love, they agree to a mutual suicide in the millpond that took Beata's life.
A: Henrik Ibsen Pf: 1887, Bergen Pb: 1886 Tr: 1891 G: Trag. in 4 acts; Norwegian prose S: Rosmersholm Estate, western Norway, 1880s C: 4m, 2f
Like Oedipus the King, Rosmersholm has an analytic structure, in which nearly all the action derives from revelations about the past. While it offers Ibsen opportunities to reflect profoundly on the nature of love and of individual belief, it creates difficulties as a tragic piece. While in Sophocles the outcome is inevitable, in a realistic play like this the exposure of the past opens up many possibilities, so that Rosmer's and Rebekka's suicide pact may appear at best misguided, at worst melodramatic.