Ibsen’s Influence on the Spanish Dramatist Jose Echegaray

Isabel Alvarez, Wilfrid Laurier University


In the history of literature there are certain writers who owe their importance not only to their creative stature, but to the fact that they give life or incorporate ideas and ideals of their times that had hardly registered in the intellectual sensibility of the elite. Such men represent the new stages in the awareness of men’s condition. One of them was the playwright José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832-1916). This thesis records in a modest way some aspects of a renovated consciousness.

Several dramatic critics have pointed out that the Norwegian Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), influenced the plays of Echegaray; but an intensive search in the specialized works has yielded little proof of this influence. A clear challenge to scholarship was thus established.

In the consideration of conformity between two authors, it is always legitimate to debate where coincidence finishes and influence begins. In the case under study, the difficulty of the problem is proven by the fact that after almost one hundred years, no one, to our knowledge, has undertaken the enterprise. It would be presumptuous to hope that we can give a clear answer to the interrogations set, within the modest framework of a Master of Arts thesis. A definite solution to the problem would require a much more ambitious research.

In the present thesis we shall try to delineate the possibilities of influence on the basis of the community of dramatic situations and of the identity of some ideals in both authors. In order to appreciate the significant relationships, we shall also have to consider the biographical elements, not to mention the temper of both personalities.

Our efforts will try to show whether the lack, up to the moment, of “material” proof of an influence, does or does not allow us to believe in the existence of a change in the dramatic personality of Echegaray under the impact of Ibsen’s ideas.