chapter  17
31 Pages

Ibsen’s Rosmersholm

On the surface, the plot of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm fi ts a typical Vakhtangov “scenario.” “The last, childless leaf of a once powerful family branch” ( Sourcebook 2011: 217)—Johannes Rosmer (see Figure 17.1 )—reverses on his conservative ideas. By doing so, he challenges the very order of life established by his ancestors. The stagnant world of the familial Rosmersholm estate is described in Vakhtangov’s directorial plan as the classic kingdom of death. The very drapes of Rosmersholm are soaked in “silence and order, austerity and stableness, brutality and unbending will” ( Sourcebook 2011: 214). Rosmersholm appears in Vakhtangov’s directorial notes as a major force, and one of the main “characters” in the play:

A single will and a single spirit has always reigned here. The only reason these heavy sofas, tables, and armchairs-massive, ancestral, and silent-keep their stillness and don’t die of shame for the only black sheep in the Rosmer family, is that their body is wooden, and they cannot move.