Places: Brand

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1866 (English translation, 1891)

First produced: 1885

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Social criticism

Time of work: Nineteenth century

Places DiscussedIce church

Ice Brandchurch. Naturally formed, domelike place of peace made entirely of ice that is the main setting of acts 1 and 5. Located high in an unspecified region of the mountains of Scandinavia, this “church” symbolizes the inflexible side of Christianity and materially exemplifies Brand’s belief that salvation must come through total suffering and sacrifice. Predictably, this religion is not merely cold and heartless, but also ruthlessly unrelenting.

Village church

Village church. Presumably, a small, Lutheran state church. While this church is meant to be the center of village life, religion here has grown lifeless and ritualistic and meaningless. Henrik Ibsen uses it to symbolize the lack of warmth and love among Christians. It is thus torn down by Brand and his followers.

New church

New church. Replacement for the previous village church. Built by Brand, the mayor, and the village people, this new building and new church are immediately rejected by them at the opening ceremony and the key is thrown into the river. It is meant to be a church where all the congregants will worship God in an “all or nothing” fashion; however, this proves impossible after Brand realizes that God is one of love and not of law.

BibliographyBellquist, John E. “Ibsen’s Brand and Når vi døde vågner: Tragedy, Romanticism, Apocalypse.” Scandinavian Studies 55, no. 4 (Autumn, 1983): 345-370. A discussion of Brand’s extreme idealism, which causes him to sacrifice the interests of his family members as well as his own life and happiness. Bellquist regards Brand as a typical Aristotelian tragic hero.Eikeland, P. J. Ibsen Studies. New York: Haskell House, 1934. A collection of four essays. The essay on Brand, a particularly good introductory discussion for the general reader, emphasizes Brand’s Christianity, his willingness to admit to error, and his commitment to following his conscience.Hurt, James. Catiline’s Dream: An Essay on Ibsen’s Plays. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972. A survey of Ibsen’s works. Contains a good discussion of Brand’s spiritual struggles and the opposition between love and will as organizing principles in life.Lyons, Charles R. Henrik Ibsen: The Divided Consciousness. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1972. A volume with studies of seven Ibsen plays. The essay on Brand discusses the play’s tension between the spiritual and the carnal.Sohlich, Wolfgang. “Ibsen’s Brand: Drama of the Fatherless Society.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 3, no. 2 (Spring, 1989): 87-105. A discussion of Brand’s family relationships as a key to Ibsen’s depiction of the social transformation at the time. The article relies heavily on the critical theory of the Frankfurt School.
Categories: Places