Henrik Ibsen is the person to enliven the spirit of drama more than after one hundred years of any mentionable drama (School for Scandal in 1777 by R. B. Sheridan) in English Literature, and more over he is told to be the only dramatist after the demise of William Shakespeare to have freshened the culture and standard of drama in a large scale. Some important works by Ibsen are Ghosts, A Doll’s House etc. In this article we’re sharing Top 10 Best Henrik Ibsen Quotes.
Top 10 Best Henrik Ibsen Quotes
- “It is the very mark of the spirit of rebellion to crave for happiness in this life”
Happiness, as the term is most popularly defined, is not something that we generally find in our routine life. Human mind always craves for something more, some higher level in everything. On the other hand, for social and moral up gradation as well this change is required. And if this crave for change is registered in logical perspective as Henrik Ibsen puts it, could very aptly be called ‘spirit of defiance’, because only when one possesses the said spirit he becomes able to change his circumstances and thus can bring in the desired happiness in life.
- “I don’t imagine you will dispute the fact that at present the stupid people are in an absolutely overwhelming majority all the world over.”
Judging from the present scenario in this 22nd Century world this comment made by Henrik Ibsen could be considered as a universal statement. But in respect of the time when he had lived and especially the country where he mostly exercised writing, making such a bold criticism against the society was really a matter of guts. Probably the amount of hardship he had to face as a boy in his family as well as in school had given him the desperation to be able to announce the stupidity of most people around us.
- “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.”
If the previous comment is the effect, the reason could possibly be this assertion made by Ibsen that those who are actually stupid in our society, try to behave more smartly by virtue of their oratory and not any action. It is a pity that in our world those who actually bear the burden of the nation are seldom given any recognition. Instead all credits are snatched by who can speak well and thus maintain a favourable surrounding always. But to people like Ibsen, it is the deed that makes the final impression no matter how much one may flutter.
- “You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”
In his life Henrik Ibsen had to face lot of adversities. His career was not at all smooth and in every step he had to literally earn the right to sustain and progress. He had known it very well that in times of struggle one very rarely finds a helping hand; rather it is only the sufferer who has to bear the entire load. This comment, therefore, is justified as the fact that a man has been alone, proves that he has undergone the most hard times in life and yet has succeeded every time; that man is the strongest man.
- “You have never loved me. You have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me.”
Henrik Ibsen’s all time famous drama A Doll’s House is the source of this quoted line which is spoken by Nora, the central female character in the play. This is towards the end of the drama when Nora finds herself utterly alone even after having a husband and two kids and she finally realizes that her husband had never been in love with her at all; rather she had always been a ‘play thing’ for him. Although she had sacrificed a lot for the family, especially for her husband, when she needed support most she got rebuked by her husband.
- “The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That’s one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population — the intelligent ones or the fools?”
Another famous drama by Henrik Ibsen An Enemy of the People holds this equally famous line where an open question is asked to the audience. The author not only needs an answer from us, but also wants us to be enriched in the process. Those who are intelligent do not count among the mass because the though process of the mass goes in the opposite direction always. Now it is an appeal by the author for us to revise our thinking and rethink which side we should take: the path chosen by the common men or that of the wise men.
- “I must make up my mind which is right – society or I.”
Another rebellious comment yet again from Nora in A Doll’s House by Ibsen is this line which exactly echoes the very same statement of the preceding quotation. Life has taken Nora to such a juncture when she decides to leave her husband and kids and be headed for a life without anybody to be accompanied. This decision of her has been taken when she has realized the stark reality of being cruelly alone even after possessing a happy family. She has to choose either to compromise and live in a family to suit the model of a society or to be wise and leave the family.
- “Helmer: I would gladly work night and day for you. Nora- bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves.
Nora: It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.”
The theory of feminism had not properly taken its shape at the time when Ibsen wrote A Doll’s House. Still the plot of the drama deals with the problem of existence for a house-wife in a middle class family. The quoted statement is true even in today’s world in many cases. Honour is not something men are generally ready to forgo for the sake of even their love. But women can do much more even unasked for. This particular difference in attitude is very minutely shown here by creating a touchy atmosphere through the dialogue between Nora and her husband Mr. Hlmer.
- “Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintance, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness.”
The Victorian age, when Ibsen had lived was the richest period in the history of Europe till then in terms of technology and industrialization. Quite naturally, the rise of upper class society had given birth to many unnecessary luxurious practices and of course, to the labour classes. There had been some money-mongers who had particularly contributed to this differentiation in class system. To them and the ones who believed in them, Ibsen casts his statement about the usefulness of money and at the same time declares what its limitations are.
- “It’s not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that walks in us. It’s all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can’t get rid of them.”
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In a famous play by Ibsen, Ghosts this line occurs. It is in general a philosophical lesson to all that along with some good fortune that we inherit there come some other invisible and inevitable negative elements as well that we just cannot get rid of. Ironically this comment suits our civilization and religious practices too. These invisible ghosts are the destructing forces that block one’s development; if not, at least linger to his being as some unwanted obligations. Therefore, inheritance of any good element is to treated with proper precaution so that it’s not so good accompaniments do not get the chance to bother us. Hope you have enjoyed reading the Top 10 Best Henrik Ibsen Quotes.