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Norwegian dramatist (1828-1906)

Henrik Ibsen quote

If I cannot be myself in what I write, then the whole is nothing but lies and humbug.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Björnstjerne Björnson, Sept. 12, 1865

There are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, one in man and another, altogether different, in woman. They do not understand each other; but in practical life the woman is judged by man's law, as though she were not a woman but a man.

HENRIK IBSEN, From Ibsen's Workshop

Writing has ... been to me like a bath from which I have risen feeling cleaner, healthier, and freer.

HENRIK IBSEN, Speeches and New Letters

Really to sin you have to be serious about it.


The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population -- the intelligent ones or the fools?

HENRIK IBSEN, An Enemy of the People

Home life ceases to be free and beautiful as soon as it is founded on borrowing and debt.

HENRIK IBSEN, A Doll's House

Before I write down one word, I have to have the character in my mind through and through. I must penetrate into the last wrinkle of his soul.


Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.

HENRIK IBSEN, An Enemy of the People

I have not yet come to an understanding with ancient art; I cannot make out its connection with our own time ... nor can I yet help often seeing only conventions where others maintain that there are enduring laws.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Björnstjerne Björnson, Sept. 16, 1864

The Minority is always right.

HENRIK IBSEN, An Enemy of the People

Henrik Ibsen quote

Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea.... We are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light.


To live is to war with trolls.

HENRIK IBSEN, "A Verse," Poems

A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view.

HENRIK IBSEN, From Ibsen's Workshop

It is inexcusable for scientists to torture animals; let them make their experiments on journalists and politicians.


The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.

HENRIK IBSEN, An Enemy of the People

Throughout the crowded ballroom
There's naught but gladness and mirth;
Not one of them all that hath felt it--
The weary burden of earth;
Not one of them all that hath felt it--
Not one that could ever guess
How, under the veil of rejoicing,
Lurks the horror of emptiness.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Susanna Thoresen, Jan. 1856

It is not for a care-free existence I am fighting, but for the possibility of devoting myself to the task which I believe and know has been laid upon me by God -- the work which seems to me more important and needful in Norway than any other, that of arousing the nation and leading it to think great thoughts.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to King Charles, Apr. 15, 1866

That is the accursed thing about small surroundings -- they make the soul small.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Magdalene Thoresen, Oct. 15, 1867

There is nothing so enervating and exhausting as this hopeless waiting. I dare say this is only a transition period. I will and shall have a victory some day. If the powers that be have shown me so little favor as to place me in this world and make me what I am, the result must be accordingly.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Bjornstjerne Bjornson, Mar. 4, 1866

If only I could master that demon of procrastination that goes about like a roaring lion and devours all my good intentions, I should become the most punctual man in the world.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Paul Botten-Hansen, Aug. 5, 1853

The worst that a man can do to himself is to do injustice to others.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Bjornstjerne Bjornson, Dec. 28, 1867

Henrik Ibsen quote

Nothing is impossible that one desires with an indomitable will.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Magdalene Thoresen, Mar. 31, 1868

The starving poet business is no good nowadays.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Lorentz Dietrichson, May 28, 1869

The costliness of keeping friends does not lie in what one does for them, but in what one, out of consideration for them, refrains from doing.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to George Brandes, Mar. 6, 1870

Most critical fault-finding, when reduced to its essentials, simply amounts to reproach of the author because he is himself -- thinks, feels, sees, and creates, as himself, instead of seeing and creating in the way the critic would have done.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to Magdalene Thoresen, May 29, 1870

The state must be abolished! In that revolution I will take part. Undermine the idea of the state; make willingness and spiritual kinship the only essentials in the case of a union -- and you have the beginning of a liberty that is of some value. The changing forms of government is mere toying with degrees -- a little more or a little less -- folly, the whole of it.

HENRIK IBSEN, letter to George Brandes, Feb. 17, 1871

Browse Henrik Ibsen Quotes II

Henrik Ibsen - a biography.

Henrik Ibsen Bibliography - a bibliography, including list of critical resources.

Henrik Ibsen Monologues - a collection of monologues from Ibsen's plays.

Henrik Ibsen Poems - a collection of Ibsen's poetry.

When We Dead Awaken - a remarkable adaptation of Ibsen's final play.


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