‘Children of Paradise’: Alf, Hedvig and Eyolf as ‘Conceptions of Immortality’
Ibsen’s gloomy genius would seem, in my account of it so far, to inhere almost exclusively in the anguished cry of the awakened dead against the loss of life’s creative possibilities — rather like the blind ascribing values to colours never seen. This is typical. Osvald cries out for life’s gladness, Hedda for life’s passion, Rebekka for life’s joy: but, in a dramatic world that so ruthlessly represses sexuality and that can envision ‘life’ only in ecstatic dreams, there seems no living substance to these visions. But the gloom of the late Ibsen is not by any means impervious to life at its most dramatically real and vital. Irene, awakening from the dead, knows precisely the cause of Rubek’s living death, just as she knows the nature of her own self-annihilating collaboration in their denial of life. Together, as artist and muse, they have created the perfect symbol of transcendent innocence — the resurrected soul awakening from the toils of mortality into eternal life. They call it their ‘child’ — a cold and marmoreal celebration of immortality, pure spirit freed from all entanglement with the ugliness and the dirt of existence, and immaculate in every aspect of its conception.
KeywordsEternal Life Wild Duck Christmas Tree Romantic Child Moral Conscience
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