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ever, to produce any evidence of having stood committed to a deed with all its issues; he can point to no moment when he stood bravely upon the field of conflict with towering flames behind him announcing that he had burnt his bridges.
Baffled in this quest Peer turns to the Button Moulder at another of the cross-roads and asks:
“One question, just one. What is it, at bottom, this being oneself?”
The reply is very significant and should be interpreted in the light of the New Testament.
To be oneself is: to slay oneself
to stand forth everywhere With Master's intention displayed like a sign
The life of self-restraint will make evident to the world the Divine purpose placed within the soul. It was so that Jesus taught, for after saying to his hearers, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself,” He adds, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed (Mark viii, 34, 38).
having stood sues; he can
o the Button ds and asks:
With his life tumbling about him into ruins Peer Gynt returns to Solvejg, the woman who had loved him and had believed in him through all the sad years of his wandering, and who, though she is now old and blind, had never doubted that he would come back to her. He thought that she might tell the tale of his cruel rejection of her and show how once, at all events, he did something which might be submitted to his Judge. But she has no charge against Peer; on the contrary she affirms that the love he had awakened in her heart was its priceless possession and joy.
And then when hope was dead within him, the dayspring rose upon Peer Gynt through Solvejg's faith and love. Perhaps, he thinks, she could tell what had become of that ideal self, which she must have seen once, and which she had loved through all the years.
uld be inter
ike a sign
dent to the in the soul
. saying to ter me let whosoever ords .. ashamed
PEER GYNT, “ Canst thou tell where Peer Gynt
has been since we parted?
Been, as in God's thought he first
Canst thou tell me? If not I must
get home,Go down to the mist-shrouded
regions." SOLVEJG (smiling), “Oh, that riddle is easy.” PEER GYNT,“ Then tell me what thou knowest!
Where was I, as myself, as the
whole man, the true man? Where was I, with God's sigil upon
SOLVEJG, “In my faith, in my hope, and in my
love.” PEER GYNT, (starting back)
What sayest thou-? Peace!
These are juggling words.
that's there. SOLVEJG, “Ay, that I am, but who is his father?
Surely he that forgives at the
mother's prayer.” The drama concludes with that one hope. The true self is that which is seen by love, and if, now, Peer Gynt will yield himself to love's faith, there may yet be seen the man of destiny, a crown of joy to his Maker for evermore. The Button Moulder cries from behind the house,
“At the last cross-road we will meet again, Peer.”
That is so. Each must submit to the verdict of the Judge at the last cross-road. But Solvejg sings louder her inspired hope:
"I will cradle thee, I will watch thee,
Some things remain to be said as we conclude our study.
a. Ibsen does not tell how we may find that high ideal which should be expressed in our lives. Confronted by the question, indeed, he suggests that not to be able to recognize your better self is itself an evidence of moral failure. True as that is, it does not help the man who would now aim at self-fulfilment. When we say “Be thyself” we cannot forget the possibility of our mistaking some impulse for the self God intended. The fact is we have need of direction in this most difficult of all the arts—the art of life:
If only the moral law could become incarnate!” exclaimed the ancient teacher of Athens. We need some manifestation of God's thought con
cerning human life. And Jesus stands there, the central and peerless figure in history, in whom we find a perpetual protest against unworthy views of life-an endless inspiration to all who would live in harmony with the Divine Will. If we follow Him we shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. The glory of the Christian ideal lies in the fact that it is radiated from a life and not a precept. No man can better obey the highest law of his own life than by obedience to that Holy Spirit we have seen and loved in Christ.
b. Very urgent is Ibsen's message that selfrealisation is conditioned by self-denial. Fitzgerald was anxious to have Carlyle leave London: “I tried to persuade him to leave the accursed den; and he wished—but, but-perhaps he did not wish on the whole.” That is what we find when we command ourselves to leave some cherished evil; something breaks out into rebellion or, at least, opposes the weight of its own inertia to the proposed departure. Life's severest conflicts take place within the mind and must be fought to a finish without any human onlookers to cheer and help. Compromise here means defeat; half