Ibsen and tragedy : a study in lykke
This thesis traces Ibsen's development as a writer of tragedy through lykke. contingency and happiness. Chapter I explains why notions of chance and happiness are so central to tragedy, and shows how the interests of tragedy and ethics converge in these concepts. Aristotle's arguments in the Poetics for the secularisation of tragedy are examined, along with basic ethical and tragic categories of eudaimonia (happiness) and tuche (luck). The case is then made for seeing Norwegian lykke as a concept straddling both these notions. This leads to the argument that Ibsen performs an analogous secularising gesture on his own tragedies, which explains the development from an excessive reliance on external agencies in his historical tragedies to the highly sophisticated accounts of lykke in later works. Chapter II presents the early historical tragedies from Catilina to Kejser og GaiJlceer, dramas written in 'high tragic' mode, dependent on notions of fate and other forces hostile to human happiness. Chapter ill argues that with Brand, Ibsen turns away from manifestations of contingency, and is more concerned with human agency. Here the spiritual discipline of the hero, not contingency, is pitted against happiness, and the move towards secularisation is discernible. Chapters IV, V and VI focus on Ibsen's realist tragedies Et Dukkehjem, Gengangere and Rosmersholm, secularised tragedies par excellence. Through their explorations of happiness, they participate in philosophical debates such as the affirmation of the ordinary life and utilitarianism. The last two chapters examine Bygmester Solness and John Gabriel Borkman, in which Ibsen returns to an analysis of notions of extra-human agencies and chance as determiners of happiness, not as a return to the cosmologies of his historical tragedies, but as a part of the dramatization of the hero's search for truth.