The Master Builder  

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The Master Builder (Template:Lang-no) is a play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. It was first published in December 1892 and is regarded as one of Ibsen's most significant and revealing works.


  • Halvard Solness, master builder.
  • Aline Solness, his wife.
  • Doctor Herdal, physician.
  • Knut Brovik, formerly an architect, now in Solness's employment.
  • Ragnar Brovik, Knut Brovik's son, a draftsman.
  • Kaia Fosli, a book-keeper.
  • Hilda Wangel, a character introduced earlier, in Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea.

Plot summary

Halvard Solness is the middle-aged Master Builder of a small town in Norway who has become a successful architect of some distinction and local reputation. One day while having a visit from his friend Doctor Herdal, Solness is visited by Hilde Wangel, a young woman of twenty-four from another town whom Doctor Herdal happens to recognize from a recent trip that he had taken. The doctor leaves, Solness is alone with Hilde, and she reminds him that they are not strangers – they have previously met in her home town ten years ago when she was fourteen years old. When Solness does not respond right away, she reminds him that at one point during their encounter he had made advances to her, had offered her a romantic interlude, and promised her "castles in the sky", all of which she believed. He denies this. She gradually convinces him, however, that she can assist him with his household duties, and so he takes her into his home.

Solness is also the manager of an architectural office in which he employs Knut Brovik, his son Ragnar Brovik, and Kaia Fosli. Kaia and Ragnar are romantically linked, and Ragnar has ambitions to become promoted in his architectural vocation, which Solness is remiss to grant or support. Solness also has a complicated relationship with his wife, Aline, and the two are revealed to have lost children, some years ago, as a result of a fire. During this time, Solness builds a closer tie with Hilde while she is in his home, and she supports his architectural vocation and new projects.

During the construction of his most recent project which includes towering steeples, Hilde learns that Solness suffers from acrophobia, a morbid fear of extreme heights, but nonetheless she encourages him to climb the steeples to the top at the public opening of the newly completed building. Solness, inspired by her words, begins his ascent, when he suddenly loses his footing and crashes to his death on the ground before the spectators collected for the opening of the new building. Among the spectators standing aghast at the sight, only Hilde comes forward with a gleeful expression on her face stating the words, "My Master Builder."

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