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Understanding LovePhilosophy, Film, and Fiction$
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Susan Wolf and Christopher Grau

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384512.001.0001

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“Something That Might Resemble a Kind of Love”

“Something That Might Resemble a Kind of Love”

Fantasy and Realism in Henrik Ibsen’s Little Eyolf

Chapter:
(p.185) 9 “Something That Might Resemble a Kind of Love”
Source:
Understanding Love
Author(s):

Toril Moi

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384512.003.0009

Little Eyolf (1894) is one of Henrik Ibsen’s most difficult plays. In this new full-scale reading, Toril Moi shows that formally as well as thematically the play is preoccupied with the conflict between fantasy and reality. Ibsen uses this conflict to explore the possibilities of realism as a theatrical form, and to lay the foundations for modernism in the theater. Deeply destructive to their child, the parents’ egocentric fantasies make them incapable of love, and also prevent them from seeing themselves and others as they really are. In the last two acts, the characters slowly realize that in order to live in a world full of suffering and death, they must develop the capacity to see reality clearly, to develop what Iris Murdoch calls a “just and loving gaze.” Only then do they have a chance to do something meaningful for themselves and others.

Keywords:   Ibsen, Little Eyolf, Modernism, realism, theater, love, theatrical form

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