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Henrik Ibsen



Henrik Ibsen
Print Henrik Ibsen Reading Comprehension


Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.99

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    henrik, venereal, following, scandalous, protagonist, pseudonym, refusing, recognition, criticism, disgrace, morality, ignorant, playwright, realism, notable, influential
     content words:    Henrik Johan Ibsen, Burial Mound, Brynjolf Bjarme, Norwegian Theatre, Suzannah Thoresen, Christiania Theatre, Peer Gynt, Golden Age, Roman Emperor Julian, Victorian Age


Henrik Ibsen
By Jamie Kee
  

1     Henrik Johan Ibsen was a notable Norwegian poet and playwright who lived during the nineteenth century. Born on March 20, 1828, he was considered to be one of the four greatest, most influential playwrights of his time and has often been referred to as the founder of modern prose drama. His writings are realistic and modern, moving away from a more romantic style, focusing on bringing the problems and ideas of his time onto the stage. Ibsen's plays turned the idea of proper Victorian plays of the time upside down.
 
2     Ibsen was born in Skien, a coastal town in southern Norway. His father, once a successful merchant, altered his family's social position when he experienced financial failure. His family had once been known for their high social position, but after their financial crash, they were abandoned by friends and left with feelings of disgrace. Ibsen's mother turned to her faith for comfort, but his father fell into a deep depression. These events caused feelings of bitterness to settle in Ibsen, and within his plays are characters that mirror his parents and their financial difficulties.
 
3     As a child, Ibsen had dreams of becoming an artist. He was exposed to art through his mother, an avid painter. Unfortunately, poverty brought his education to an abrupt halt. Eventually at the age of fifteen, Ibsen left home to become an apprentice druggist at a pharmacy in Grimstad. Ibsen then moved to Christiania (now known as Oslo) and briefly attended a school for university candidates known as a "student factory."
 
4     It was during this time in Ibsen's life that he also began writing plays. In 1850 he published his first play called Catilina. Unfortunately, the play was not performed. His next play, The Burial Mound (1850), was produced but only performed a few times, receiving very little attention. Both of these plays were written under his pseudonym, Brynjolf Bjarme. Despite his lack of success, Ibsen still continued writing in hopes of being a successful playwright.

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