chapter  XI
The Law of Adjustment
Pages 7

Ellida Wangel, the 'lady from the sea" suffers from an acute anxiety-neurosis. She, too, like Rebecca in Rosmersholm (but in a much more inhibited form), is under the spell of the sea-elementa symbol of the anarchic 'freedom' let loose in man's psyche. The whole play is in essence a dramatized history of her cure by the method of sublimation-long before this word became vulgarized by the jargon of modern psychology. Sexually maladjusted to her much older husband, Dr. Wangel-a widower, whom she had married without really loving, she cannot 'acclimatize' herself and, therefore, feels a stranger to him, to her two step-daughters Boletta and Hilda; in fact, to all her inland surroundings, so different from her sea-battered native shore in the North. She is like a mermaid thrown by the waves on to the beach, and unable either to go back to the sea, or to get accustomed to dry land.