Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Andrew Taylor


This thesis explores how desire operates in selected plays by the Norwegian dramatist, Henrik Ibsen. I will argue that desire acts us a motivating force, urging the characters to seek fulfilment in their ideals, resulting in both defeat and triumph. The four plays considered, Rosmersholm, The Lady From the Sea. Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder, depict characters that are unable to sustain ordinary existence. This inability produces equivocal and contradictory human emotions that both restrict and impel the characters as they journey toward their downfall and salvation. The ambiguous nature of these four plays is examined in order to demonstrate how desire creates contradictory character relationships and conclusions. The often prohibitive society that the motivated individual inhabits is also considered, as landscape and environment confine the individual, preventing satisfaction of the desire for an idealistic life. However, this thesis will demonstrate that the individual also engenders limitations, as their own inadequacies obstruct the vision of a perfect existence.