Peer Gynt

Definition

Theater

  • Henrik Ibsen's fantasy comedy, published in Oslo in1867. Grieg's well-known incidental music was written for the firstperformance in 1876. Although a long verse play of considerable complexity,it is still regularly revived. A particularly memorable revival wasthat given by Ralph Richardson and the Old Vic Company at the NewTheatre in 1944.

    The title character - a reckless liar and egotist whoremains essentially lovable - was based partly on Ibsen's youngerself and partly on his perception of the Norwegian national character.The play, which is set mainly in rural Norway, begins with the youngPeer boasting about his (imaginary) hunting exploits to his mother,├ůsa. When he is slighted by Solveig, the girl who really loveshim, Peer abducts another village girl, Ingrid, on her wedding day.Pursued by villagers, they flee to the mountains. After abandoningIngrid, Peer falls for a mysterious beauty who leads him to the undergroundkingdom of the trolls; she subsequently bears him a hideous trollbaby. In the fourth act Peer, now middle-aged, has drifted to NorthAfrica after making his fortune in the slave trade. He attracts afollowing by posing as a prophet but then loses everything throughhis infatuation with a dancing girl. He returns home a saddened oldman to find Solveig, now blind, still waiting for him.

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