Henrik Ibsen and Guns
Uploaded by bulldawg on Oct 27, 2011
This essay describes guns generally; describes the .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and discusses the theme of guns in “Hedda Gabler” and “The Wild Duck.”
Henrik Ibsen is one of the most gifted playwrights ever to work in theater, and his plays are so strikingly modern in their themes that they resonate even today, though he wrote in the 1800’s.
However, he’s not the first person we’d think of in connection with guns. Mysteries like “Sleuth” or other such stories come to mind long before his observations of society. He uses firearms sparingly, but when they are present in a play, we know they’ll be used, to devastating effect. Perhaps that’s why they have so much more impact in his stories of morality and social issues than they do in works where we are expecting violence and mayhem.
Guns, no matter whether they are handguns, rifles, or automatic weapons, on up to the crew-served weapons like howitzers, have several things in common: they have a chamber of some sort to hold the ammunition; they have a barrel to help direct the round; and they have a trigger mechanism. Guns have one basic purpose: they are designed to kill. Whether they are used to kill an animal for its meat or another human (or oneself), they are weapons deliberately designed to destroy. Target shooting is a secondary purpose.
Some would argue that they are beautiful, and in a way I suppose they are, because their shape and design so exactly tell us what they do. They are machines of destruction, and they look like it.
They are the weapons of cowards (I’ll make allowances for people in combat, but not for the ordinary citizen sneaking around in the dead of night), because it’s possible to take a pot shot at someone from hiding without ever risking oneself in the attack. They are weapons of brute force, giving whoever has the gun with the most firepower a decided advantage. The only truly elegant weapon is a sword, because opponents have to come close enough to one another to actually “cross steel”; thus swordsmen must be both brave and skilled. Shooters need only be faster than the other person, or, as I said, find a safe place from which to ambush others.
Let’s look at one gun in particular, since I’m familiar with it:...