Peer Gynt - Sexuality, nationalism and identity

Peer GyntSexuality, nationalism and identity

Performance type: 
​1 h

​A soulless and rootless figure or a true Norwegian with a hidden heart of gold?

Is Peer Gynt Henrik Ibsen's ironic gaze on the Norwegian national character – a deceitful, hypocritical figure floating on self-deception and his skills as a seducer? A manipulative #MeToo figure harassing the women around him, living high as an arms dealer and sex tourist? Or is he rather a creative entrepreneurial figure, an idealised image of the proactive and eloquent Norwegian who, deep down, has a heart of gold and a self-destructive, ambiguous relationship with love?

Since its publication in 1867, discussions have been intense about the protagonist in Peer Gynt, often considered the centerpiece of the Norwegian literary canon, where it stands at the crossroads between the idealism of romanticism and the critical scrutiny of realism.

Ibsen's play with Edvard Grieg's original music is the Festival's opening performance this year, and Studentersamfunnet initiates the discussion in March: It revolves around Peer Gynt's identity, love, sexuality, and violence, the character of Solveig, and the other women in the play – and how it came to be perceived as an idealized expression of national identity.


​The Bergen International Festival, the University of Bergen, and Studentersamfunnet i Bergen are collaborating on several discussions in connection with the Festival production of Peer GyntSee also the Peer Gynt afterparty taking place Friday 24 May.




  • ​Eirik Vassenden professor of Nordic literature at the University of Bergen and literary critic

  • Kari Jegerstedt center director at the Center for Women's and Gender Research

  • Frode Helmich Pedersen professor of Nordic literature at the University of Bergen and critic for Morgenbladet

  • Marit Sofie Aalen associate Professor at OsloMet, psychologist, and historian of ideas with a Ph.D. in Peer Gynt

  • Emma Harestad moderator, deputy chairman of Studentersamfunnet 

In collaboration with

​UiB Innsikt and Studentersamfunnet i Bergen

Supported by

The Fritt Ord Foundation

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