Lost boys in Little Eyolf

  • Olivia Noble Gunn


This chapter uses the figure of the lost boy to analyse Ibsen’s dramatisation of replacement in Little Eyolf. After Eyolf drowns, his mother proposes to bring poor children up from the shore to live in his rooms. Little Eyolf thus contains the vertical idealism and seaside-to-heights landscape common to several Ibsen plays. I argue, however, that Eyolf’s mother proposes a secondary, figurative drowning in the bourgeois home and in the ambiguous currents of replacement. Lost boys such as Peter Pan and Eyolf are made by doubled loss: first death following neglect; then loss of their indefinite status as a dead child in favour of definite recuperation as the dead child. Lost boys escape, yet are imprisoned by adult fantasies of innocence that refuse the radical limits of death.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivia Noble Gunn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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