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Theatre / Little Eyolf

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Little Eyolf is a rather symbolistic play, written by Henrik Ibsen in 1894. The story revolves around the death of the eponymous character, the crippled little boy Eyolf, and the Guilt Complex shared by his parents, both for crippling him, later for sending him out to play, which led to the accident that drowned him. The parents, Alfred, a philosopher, and Rita, a Clingy Jealous Girl, struggles to find a foothold in their relationship after their son is gone.


Tropes found in this play:

  • Arc Words: "Human responsibility". This is the name of the thesis Alfred is writing, and seemingly never gets to finish. Also the "law of transition", also phrased many times.
  • Author Avatar: Alfred. He is a writer who loves to walk in the mountains. So did Ibsen.
  • Betty and Veronica: Rita and Asta, of course. Rita has the "Veronica" trait to Alfred`s Archie.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Rita. She is jealous of Asta, because of her close relation to Alfred, and of Eyolf, because he stands "between" her and Alfred. Her Guilt Complex grows immensely because of this.
  • Dies Wide Open: Eyolf was found lying under the water close by the pier, his eyes staring upwards.
  • Foil: The play has two foils. Asta is a foil to Rita, while Borgheim is a foil to Alfred. The two men represent a spiritual side (Alfred is a thinker), and a practical side (Borgheim is building roads). The women has a rather aggressive and sexually explicit Rita, and a more introvert and "innocent" Asta.
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  • Girl Next Door: Asta has been "next door" most of the time, much to the annoyance of Rita, who lampshades it by wishing she was far off.
  • Guilt Complex: Rita and Alfred has it because they unwittingly crippled their son, making Alfred care almost too much for him. After his death, the complex is turned Up to Eleven.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Asta is the maiden, Rita is the mother, and the "rat maid" is obviously the crone.
  • Heroic BSoD: Alfred has a great one in the second act. Asta comes to comfort him, while Rita (going through the same), is comforted by Borgheim. When Rita and Alfred talk it over, they have a collective BSOD.
  • Ill Girl: Boy, in this case. Eyolf is crippled because he fell down from the table he slept on when he was an infant. It happened because his parents chose to have sex on the spot and forgot all about him.
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  • The Ingenue: Asta seems to be Too Good for This Sinful Earth, and is thus a foil to Rita.
  • It's All About Me: Rita is quite clear on this one.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Asta is on the light side, while Rita is on the dark side.
  • Love Triangle: Rita, Alfred and Asta, his half sister. Also the engineer Borgheim, Asta and Alfred (and possibly Asta, Rita and Borgheim).
  • Madness Mantra: When Rita begins to crack up, she has a feeling that the ticking clock constantly repeats the words "floating crutch" over and over. She also repeats them herself.
  • Maiden Aunt: Asta, of course. She is unmarried, a school teacher, and the alleged sister of Alfred. Note that she is the younger sister of Alfred, and thus not an Old Maid per se.
  • Mysterious Waif: The "rat maiden" who comes knocking at the door, enthralling little Eyolf. Her profession is hunting down rats for households who wish to get rid of them. It seems she has a lure on children as well. Eyolf fell in the water while looking after her.
  • Not Blood Siblings: It turns out Asta and Alfred did not share parents at all. That heightens an already explicit UST.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Rita had dressed up for Alfred when he came home after six weeks. She was ready for him, and he just went to bed. Pity.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Rita feels the eyes of her son follows her everywhere, and she can´t get rid of them.
  • The Philosopher: Alfred is writing a thesis on the "human responsibility".
  • Replacement Goldfish: Both Alfred and Rita clings to Asta at one point, wishing her to be the replacement for Eyolf. Asta is sensible enough to leave them to their fate.
  • The Reveal: Asta knew her father was not the father of Alfred. They both knew they had separate mothers. And then...
  • Sanity Slippage: Rita gets pretty close during the last act of the play.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Asta decides to leave on the spot, and follows Borgheim. She could not bear the tension building in the Allmers couple.
  • Shipper on Deck: Rita consciously ships Asta and Borgheim - justified because that will make Asta leave her and Alfred.
  • Shout-Out: To The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The "rat maiden" fills in for the piper, and the child who gets smitten, is Eyolf, of course.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Alfred and Asta, who grew up together.
  • The Vamp: Rita has a history on leading Alfred on. Thus, she was responsible for making them do it when Eyolf was crippled. Later, when Alfred came from his mountain trip, she seemed to be quite ready for him. He, on the other hand, wasn`t.
  • Wham Line: The Crutch is floating. This sentence makes the parents realize that Eyolf has drowned.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Alfred had Asta wearing his laid off clothes when she was little. And he called her Eyolf.
  • Yandere: Rita. Her antics get worse as time goes on.

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