Is there a good description of the physical looks of Peer anywhere in the play Peer Gynt? I assume he looked like the "default" for "adventurer" types. (I automatically think of Oliver Queen in the Hong Kong flashbacks, or of Sawyer in Lost.)

Or is there any description of Peder Olsen Hågå, whose life was the inspiration for Ibsen's poem/play?

(My brain is a permanent lulz producer and after hearing The Offspring, I just imagined Peer Gynt in the Hall of Trolls...stalked by Snorkmaiden.)

1 Answer 1


Details are scarce.

The script for the play introduces Peer Gynt with the description:

[PEER GYNT, a strongly-built youth of twenty, comes down the pathway. His mother, ASE, a small, slightly built woman, follows him, scolding angrily.]

At the beginning of Act IV, we have another not-super-helpful description:

(Peer Gynt, a handsome middle-aged gentleman, in an elegant travelling-dress, with a gold-rimmed double eyeglass hanging at his waistcoat, is doing the honours at the head of the table.)

Later, during their conversation, he mentions that his "hair was slowly growing grizzled," and it's also mentioned that he puts on his glasses halfway through.

At the beginning of Act V:

[PEER GYNT, a vigorous old man, with grizzled hair and beard, is standing aft on the poop. He is dressed half sailor-fashion, with a pea-jacket and long boots. His clothing is rather the worse for wear; he himself is weather-beaten, and has a somewhat harder expression.]

There isn't much else to go on, but we at least have a rough idea about to how Peer looked at each part of the play.

Ibsen himself helped adapt the work for the stage, so it's possible he was involved in the casting and costuming. It turns out that the first ever actor for the role was a guy named Henrik Klausen. Here's what he looked like at one point in the play:

enter image description here
(Wiki Commons)

An earlier picture of a younger Peer Gynt shows that he had dark hair.

I couldn't find any information about the appearances of Peder Olsen Hågå or Per Laurissen Hågå, and the memorial statue in the Per Gynt Gården is actually some abstract depiction, not a humanesque one.

  • 4
    When you're writing plays, there are good reasons for not specifying the physical details of the actors' appearances too closely — you want various actors to be able to play the roles.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 16:35

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