Halvard Solness is a master architect who has ruthlessly forged a preëminent career without regard for the feelings of those around him. In spite of this unscrupulous path of life, his conscience is still painfully alive, burdening him with guilt for past choices. He lives a tormented existence, fearful not only that he is going mad but also that he has unconsciously been in league with demonic powers in order to reach his present status. His long-suffering wife and his mistress try to deal with him in his fragile state while not being destroyed themselves. Into this fraught situation suddenly arrives the dangerous Hilda Wangel, an eldritch young woman claiming a special relationship with Solness from his past.
One of the five great plays of Ibsen’s final period, “The Master Builder” is laden with layers of symbolic significance. Like most Ibsen works, it begins quietly with dialogue between quite ordinary people and only gradually reveals its depths of meaning and power.