The playwright Henrik Ibsen once stated, “Do you know what we are those of us who count as pillars of society? We are society's tools, neither more nor less.” Ibsen was a great anti-idealistic writer of the mid to late nineteenth century. His plays were of a new breed, swaying away from the wholesomeness of the Victorian era, and instead attacking personal issues that he, and all those in his native Norway could relate to. This new writing style helped coin Ibsen as the father of modern drama. These modern dramas were very real, and the characters Ibsen created were in fact tools of society. Ibsen uses Halvard and Aline Solness of The Master Builder and Regine Engstrand and Mrs. Helene Alving of Ghosts to show how society’s power to conform negatively influences others. Ibsen’s characters in The Master Builder and Ghosts are victims of an idealistic society’s unrealistic expectations.
The first story, City of Glass , features a detective-fiction writer become private investigator who descends into madness as he becomes embroiled in a case. It explores layers of identity and reality, from Paul Auster the writer of the novel to the unnamed "author" who reports the events as reality to "Paul Auster the writer", a character in the story, to "Paul Auster the detective", who may or may not exist in the novel, to Peter Stillman the younger, to Peter Stillman the elder and, finally, to Daniel Quinn, protagonist .