46 pages 1 hour read

Henrik Ibsen

Peer Gynt

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1867

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From the beginning of the play, Peer expresses the belief that he is extraordinary and is meant to live an extraordinary life. He tells his mother that one day, he will be an emperor. However, the limits of his world make this extremely unlikely, if not impossible. He lives in a small Norwegian village with little money or talent. So Peer invents lies about himself that make him seem mythical, or would if anyone believed him. As theatre scholar Klaus van den Berg asks of Peer: “If you lie; are you real?” Peer sees a boy in the forest who has two options. He can live a life of danger and adventure as a draftee in the military. Or he can chop off his finger and live a quiet but small life. He chops off his finger. When the troll woman approaches Peer with their child, he is presented with the opportunity to live out a simple life with the woman he loves, to become the mundane person with the quiet life. However, that would require him to give up the part of himself that believes that he is truly an emperor. So rather than chop off that finger, he goes on a journey.