Here we have provided Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen Questions and Answers
Explain the significance of the symbol of “ghosts” in the play
Each Ibsenian play presents society as an obsolete and lifeless establishment, irrelevant to everyday life. This is exemplified by the title of the play “Ghosts,” where society’s deceased traditions and morals act as ghosts that haunt and terrify people. As Helen Alving revealed to Pastor Manders, she saw these ghosts while listening to the conversation between Osvald and Regina. These apparitions are simply the “old, long-dead ideas, all kinds of old, long-dead beliefs” that cling to everyone. The play’s title emphasizes its primary theme: the conflict between moral courage and convention. The characters’ pasts haunt their present, embodied as “ghosts” that torment them and prevent them from experiencing the joys of life.
Who is Mrs Helene Alving?
Mrs Helene Alving is a widow.
Why does Mrs. Helene Alving chastise Pastor Manders for the way he has spoken to her?
In Act 1 , Mrs. Helene Alving is outraged that Pastor Manders has spoken about aspects of her marriage of which he has no knowledge. She is described as “controlling herself” after he has “said his piece.” She then responds to him in the same manner he addressed her. Despite Pastor Manders’ claim to moral superiority and condescension towards her, Mrs. Alving views herself as his equal in the conversation. She refutes his accusation of making excuses and is ready to reveal “a few facts” about her marriage and her decisions. Pastor Manders approaches his assessment of Mrs. Alving’s past in his typical manner: with harsh judgment and little actual comprehension of the situation.
Who is Osvald Alving?
Osvald Alving is Mrs Helene Alving’s son and a painter.
Who is Pastor Manders?
Pastor Manders is a pastor who manages the orphanage that Mrs Helene Alving has set up.
Who is Jakob Engstrand?
Jakob Engstrand is a carpenter who wants to set up his own establishment, which is hinted to be a brothel.
Who is Regine?
Regine is Mrs Alving’s maid and also Engstrand’s daughter.
How does the play end?
The play ends with Mrs Alving holding morphine pills, and it is unclear whether she will agree to her son’s wishes to be put out of his misery.
What kind of relationship do Osvald and Regina have? How do they inform each other’s character development throughout the play?
Osvald speaks of Regina in the most exceptional terms despite her lower-class status, which was the reality of their time. He is the first and possibly the only man who values her for her vitality and energy rather than her sexuality. It’s worth noting that Osvald does not admire her for her morals or ideals but for her youth and robustness, which he can never attain. He desires Regina as a “helping hand” to ease his pain if necessary. Regina is depicted as a pragmatic woman who doesn’t mind entering the realm of prostitution after discovering that Osvald is her half-brother. For her, money and influence take priority. These two individuals are vastly different, but the sins of their father have bound them together.
What did Manders persuade Mrs Alving to do years ago?
Manders persuaded Mrs Alving to go back to her husband after he was unfaithful to her.
What is the secret of Regine’s true identity?
Regine is not Engstrand’s daughter; she is the illegitimate daughter of Mr Alving and Johanna, a maid.
What is Osvald’s illness?
Osvald believes he has inherited syphilis from his father, which is eating away at his brain and is fatal.
In what ways does Ibsen portray the female characters in Ghosts?
In the play, Mrs. Alving, the primary female character, resists society in her own way by attempting to comprehend new ideas and adapting them to her own circumstances. However, she is reluctant to acknowledge the truth and relies on lies and the comfort of others to navigate her life, resulting in a catastrophe. The other female characters, Regina and Johanna, lack the wealth and social status that Mrs. Alving possesses, and have never received the same level of societal respect. They struggle not only for recognition but also for their survival. Therefore, they utilize every possible means to ascend the social ladder. Regina, for instance, employs social pretences such as elegant dresses, manners, and even her sexuality to achieve her goals. These lower-class female characters in Ibsen’s Ghosts are unconventional, unafraid to question societal norms, and adept at surviving in a cut-throat world.
What do Mrs. Helene Alving’s comments about the books she is reading in Act 1 of Ghosts suggest about the society she lives in?
In Act 1, during a conversation between Pastor Manders and Mrs. Helene Alving, Mrs. Alving implies that her society is repressed and possibly hypocritical. She is not surprised by the notion of free love, and believes it is a widely held belief, even in her own community. She tells Pastor Manders that there is “nothing really new in these books.” However, she also offers a critical perspective on her society when she states that “most people don’t want to face these things or what they imply.” This comment could apply to Pastor Manders, whose life revolves around appearances and superficial morality.
How does Henrik Ibsen use Pastor Manders’s ideas about insuring the orphanage to deepen his characterization of the pastor?
In Act 1, Henrik Ibsen portrays Pastor Manders as overly concerned about how others perceive him. He chooses not to insure the building because he fears that people will believe he lacks “adequate faith in Divine Providence” and that insurance undermines his belief in God’s protection. Despite knowing that leaving the orphanage uninsured is dangerous, his fear of being judged by others overrides his sound business judgment. He is even willing to put Mrs. Helene Alving at great financial risk to avoid creating a “false and damaging impression.” From the beginning of the play, Ibsen portrays Pastor Manders as prioritizing the opinions of others over his own inner convictions, if he even has any.
Why does Pastor Manders feel he has the right to lecture Mrs. Helene Alving about her actions as a wife and mother?
In Act 1, Pastor Manders assumes the authority as Mrs. Helene Alving’s “priest” to harshly criticize her life choices. He sees himself as society’s representative of conventional rules of behavior and feels entitled to speak freely because he believes he has the weight of society behind him. Despite describing himself as Mrs. Alving’s “business adviser” and childhood friend of her and her husband, he puts these roles aside to assume the position of a moral judge. Confident in his support of society’s position on moral issues, he feels secure in dismissing Mrs. Alving’s choices and beliefs.
What is the significance of the title of Ibsen’s Ghosts?
The play Ghosts aptly takes its name from the idea that the departed spirits exert a harmful influence beyond the grave. Captain Alving is a prime example of this, as his reckless and irresponsible behavior during his lifetime continues to have serious consequences. Even though he has been long dead, the presence of his illegitimate daughter Regina serves as a constant reminder to his daughter Helen of his infidelity, making Regina an ever-present haunting figure in her life.
Moreover, Captain Alving’s negative influence extends to his son Osvald, who idolizes his father despite being unaware of his true nature. Osvald’s pursuit of his father’s ideals becomes a mere illusion as the real-life Captain Alving was a dissolute drunk and philanderer. Osvald’s inability to meet these unrealistic standards, compounded by the transmission of hereditary syphilis from his father, makes him a living ghost of his former self.
Thus, the play’s title, Ghosts, is fitting, as it represents the lasting and damaging impact that departed spirits can have on the living.
What role do the ghosts play in Ibsen’s “Ghosts”?
Captain Alving’s memory and actions when he was alive drive the plot of this play, even though he never literally appears as a ghost. The characters are haunted by his presence, and his wife, the widow, is building an orphanage in his memory at the beginning of the play. However, she does so not out of love, as she describes him as a degenerate who had many affairs and they had been separated for years. When their son, Oswald, returns home for the dedication ceremony, he reveals that he is dying from an inherited disease, likely syphilis passed down from his father. Oswald falls in love with his mother’s maid, Regina, and asks her to help him commit suicide. Mrs. Alving then has to reveal that Regina is actually Oswald’s half-sister, as the Captain had an affair with her mother. The play explores how the Captain’s actions have affected his children and how his sins have been visited upon them.\
In Ghosts, how can we analyze Mrs. Alving’s character from a feministic view?
In Henrik Ibsen’s play “Ghosts,” he exposes the limitations placed not only on women but also men and how individuals often conform to societal expectations with their own selfish motives. Ibsen’s intention is for individuals to recognize these limitations on a personal level rather than solely through a feminist lens.
The characters Mrs. Alving and Regina represent the typical women of Ibsen’s era who make personal sacrifices to maintain their status in society or to attain a higher one. However, their actions may not necessarily be for the greater good.
The struggle of women is evident in the character of Mrs. Alving, who experiences guilt and remorse for her past actions and her failure to inform her son of his father’s indiscretions sooner. Her internal battle highlights the societal pressures on women and the self-reflection necessary for personal growth. The character development of Mrs. Alving provides depth and complexity to the play that is lacking in other characters.
A feminist perspective of Mrs. Alving emphasizes her missed opportunity to make a real difference and her sense of responsibility for her son’s illness, which he takes advantage of. The best she can do for him now is to provide him with some comfort, symbolized by the “sun.”
Overall, “Ghosts” portrays the struggle of women within a male-dominated society and the personal limitations and self-imposed restrictions individuals face as they conform to societal expectations.
What is the metaphorical significance of Oswald’s shouting, “the sun –the sun” in the last part of the play?
Deception takes centre stage in this play despite the sun being a symbol of light and truth also deception is the central and main theme of the play. Characters in the play manipulate, conceal, and use subterfuge to hide the truth, leading to their inevitable downfall.
Mrs. Alving’s regret over her role in deceiving the world about her husband, Captain Alving, drives the main conflict of the play. She believes that if she had been honest with her son, Oswald, about his father’s true character, it may have prevented his confusion upon discovering his father’s syphilis. Although the disease may have still been unavoidable, being truthful could have lessened the impact of the revelation and prevented Oswald from becoming so cynical.
In his final moments, Oswald recognizes the importance of truth and acknowledges what he has missed and avoided throughout his life with the words “the sun.”
How does Ibsen use dialogue and language in “Ghosts” to reveal the characters’ motivations and beliefs?
In “Ghosts,” Ibsen uses dialogue and language to reveal the characters’ motivations and beliefs. The play is primarily a psychological drama, and much of the action takes place through the characters’ inner struggles and conversations. Ibsen uses naturalistic dialogue to make the characters feel more real and relatable, but he also uses language in more symbolic ways to reveal deeper themes and ideas.
One example of how Ibsen uses language to reveal character motivation is in the conversations between Mrs. Alving and Pastor Manders. Mrs. Alving’s frustration with Manders’ conservative views is evident in her sarcastic and cutting remarks, while Manders’ rigid adherence to societal norms is shown through his use of platitudes and moralizing language. Through these conversations, the audience gains insight into each character’s values and beliefs.
Similarly, the conversations between Mrs. Alving and her son Oswald reveal their complex relationship and the inner turmoil that both characters are experiencing. Oswald’s constant references to death and decay betray his underlying sense of hopelessness and despair, while Mrs. Alving’s attempts to comfort him and shield him from the truth are shown through her overly optimistic language and attempts to change the subject.
Ibsen also uses language in more symbolic ways to reveal deeper themes and ideas. For example, the repeated references to ghosts throughout the play symbolize the past and the way that it haunts the present. The language used to describe the orphanage and its hidden secrets highlights the corruption and moral decay that exists beneath the surface of society.
Overall, Ibsen’s use of language and dialogue in “Ghosts” is a powerful tool for revealing the characters’ motivations and beliefs and highlighting the play’s themes and ideas.
How does “Ghosts” by Ibsen critique societal norms and values of the time, and how is this criticism still relevant today?
Ibsen’s “Ghosts” is a searing critique of societal norms and values of the late 19th century. At the time, society was strictly bound by a set of codes, both moral and religious, which were deemed necessary for maintaining a sense of order and stability. Ibsen, however, saw these codes as oppressive, hypocritical, and ultimately detrimental to individual freedom and happiness.
One of the central themes of the play is the conflict between appearance and reality. Ibsen exposes the hypocrisy of a society that places such a high value on maintaining appearances, often at the expense of truth and authenticity. The play’s characters are all hiding secrets and lies, all the while pretending to be virtuous and upstanding members of society. The irony lies in the fact that these same characters are the ones who pass moral judgment on others, even as they themselves are engaging in morally dubious behavior.
Another important theme of the play is the conflict between duty and desire. Mrs. Alving, for example, is torn between her sense of duty to her late husband and her desire to live a life free from the constraints of societal expectations. Similarly, Oswald is torn between his duty to his mother and his desire to end his life before his illness consumes him completely. Ibsen argues that the rigid adherence to duty, particularly as it pertains to family and societal expectations, can be a stifling and even destructive force.
Perhaps the most significant critique of “Ghosts” is its condemnation of the double standards that exist between men and women. The play exposes the hypocrisy of a society that holds women to a higher moral standard than men, even as men engage in extramarital affairs and other forms of morally reprehensible behavior with impunity. Ibsen’s portrayal of women as victims of patriarchal oppression and the sexual double standard was a radical departure from the prevailing cultural norms of the time.
In conclusion, Ibsen’s “Ghosts” is a powerful critique of the societal norms and values of the late 19th century. Its themes of appearance versus reality, duty versus desire, and the double standards that exist between men and women are still relevant today, as these issues continue to shape our understanding of morality, gender roles, and social expectations.
How does Ibsen use irony and dramatic irony in “Ghosts” to create tension and emphasize the play’s themes?
Henrik Ibsen employs irony and dramatic irony in his play “Ghosts” to create tension and emphasize the themes of the play. Irony is a literary device that involves using language that signifies the opposite of what is intended, while dramatic irony is when the audience is aware of something that the characters are not.
Throughout the play, Ibsen employs irony to underscore the characters’ situations and the society’s hypocrisy. For instance, Captain Alving is held up as a pillar of the community, but in reality, he was a philandering alcoholic who neglected his family. This irony is particularly evident in the second act when Pastor Manders praises Captain Alving, unaware of his true character, while Mrs. Alving attempts to expose the truth about her late husband. This use of irony creates tension between the characters, with the audience knowing the truth while the characters remain oblivious.
Dramatic irony is also used in “Ghosts” to create tension and emphasize the play’s themes. For example, the audience is aware of Oswald’s illness and the morphine pills he has been hoarding, while Mrs. Alving remains ignorant of the situation. This dramatic irony builds suspense as the audience waits for Mrs. Alving to discover the truth.
Additionally, Ibsen employs irony to criticize the societal expectations and values of the time. For example, Mrs. Alving’s decision to leave her husband and raise her son on her own was considered scandalous in the society of the time. However, her actions are ultimately vindicated by the play’s events, where Captain Alving’s true character is exposed, and the consequences of his behavior are revealed.
Overall, Ibsen’s use of irony and dramatic irony in “Ghosts” creates tension and emphasizes the play’s themes of societal expectations, hypocrisy, and the consequences of past actions.
How does the portrayal of family relationships in “Ghosts” by Ibsen reflect the cultural and societal expectations of the time?
In “Ghosts,” Ibsen portrays family relationships that challenge the societal expectations of the time. The play highlights the conflict between traditional family values and the changing attitudes towards individualism and personal freedom in the late 19th century.
The portrayal of the Alving family’s relationships reveals the societal expectations of the time. Mrs. Alving, the matriarch of the family, is expected to sacrifice her own happiness for the sake of her husband’s reputation and her son’s well-being. Captain Alving, her husband, is expected to be a model of respectability and a good husband, despite his hidden debauchery. Oswald, their son, is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and uphold the family’s reputation.
However, the play subverts these societal expectations through the characters’ actions and the revelation of their hidden desires and motivations. Mrs. Alving challenges the traditional gender roles by defying her husband’s expectations and choosing to leave him. She also tries to empower her son, Oswald, by encouraging him to pursue his passion for painting, despite the societal pressure to uphold the family’s reputation.
Captain Alving, on the other hand, represents the societal pressure to maintain appearances and uphold traditional values. His hidden debauchery highlights the hypocrisy of the societal expectations and the pressure on individuals to conform to traditional roles.
The portrayal of the family relationships in “Ghosts” reflects the changing attitudes towards personal freedom and individualism in the late 19th century. The characters’ struggles to break free from societal expectations and pursue their own desires reflect the shift towards a more individualistic society.
Overall, the portrayal of family relationships in “Ghosts” by Ibsen reflects the cultural and societal expectations of the time, but also challenges them through the characters’ actions and motivations. The play highlights the tension between traditional values and the changing attitudes towards individualism and personal freedom, ultimately questioning the legitimacy of societal expectations.
Who are the main characters in “Ghosts” by Ibsen, and how do they contribute to the development of the play’s themes?
There are several main characters in “Ghosts” by Ibsen, and each contributes to the development of the play’s themes in significant ways.
Mrs. Alving, the play’s protagonist, is the widow of Captain Alving and the mother of Oswald. Throughout the play, she struggles with the burden of her past and the ghosts that haunt her family. She is a complex character, torn between her desire to protect her son and her fear of the truth. Mrs. Alving represents the theme of duty versus personal freedom, as she must confront her responsibilities as a mother and a member of society while also grappling with her own desires and sense of self.
Oswald, Mrs. Alving’s son, is a central character in the play. He is an artist who has returned home to Norway after living abroad, and he is suffering from a degenerative disease. Oswald’s illness and his request for his mother to help him end his life are a significant part of the play’s exploration of the conflict between duty and personal freedom. Oswald represents the younger generation that is breaking away from the constraints of the past and seeking a new way of life.
Pastor Manders is an important character who represents the traditional values and social norms that Mrs. Alving and Oswald are rebelling against. He is a symbol of the oppressive nature of societal expectations and the hypocrisy that can result from blindly adhering to them. Pastor Manders’s inability to understand the complexity of the situation faced by Mrs. Alving and Oswald demonstrates the limitations of traditional morality and the need for a more nuanced understanding of human experience.
Jacob Engstrand, the caretaker of the orphanage that Mrs. Alving funded, is a complex character who represents the ambiguous nature of morality and the consequences of actions. His plan to open a brothel with the money he received from Mrs. Alving’s orphanage highlights the theme of corruption and the destructive nature of societal norms.
Each of these characters contributes to the development of the play’s themes by embodying different aspects of the conflict between tradition and progress, duty and freedom, and morality and corruption. Together, they create a powerful exploration of the complexity of human experience and the need for individuals to navigate the competing demands of society and personal desires.
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