"Pillars of Society" is the story of Karsten Bernick, a prominent businessman in a small Norwegian coastal town. Karsten comes from a wealthy shipping and shipbuilding family yet he has aspirations for an even greater enterprise. When he begins secretly buying up land in the valley between the town and the main rail line, which he is backing a new rail connection to, his scandalous past suddenly comes back to him in the form of Johan Tonnesen, his wife's younger brother, who has just returned from America. Written in 1877, Ibsen's "Pillars of Society" predates a string of masterpieces by the dramatist that would ultimately secure his place in literary history. While criticized for its ending, the play accurately portrays the power of the rich to often rise above the power of the law.