Ghosts is a three act drama by Henrik Ibsen representing a harsh commentary on people’s morality of the 19th century. On the concrete example of family drama the author represent a tragedy of the society that cannot get rid of the dogmata which poisons the lives of family members. The essay is focused on the main themes of the play with regard to the original Norwegian and Victorian society.
It is important to point out that in Ibsen’s times the main goal of literature was to reveal social problems and debate about them by words of main characters. Ghosts highlight two main themes related to Norwegian and Victorian society of those times. The first theme is an issue of individual freedom with regard to “social and institutional forces: by commercial hypocrisy, religious intolerance, political expediency, and all the accumulated pressures of conventional morality and established authority” (Ibsen, 1981). Frau Alving left her husband and ran away to her beloved man, but the pastor returned her back. Thus, Frau Alving betrayed her love for the sake of conventionalities which existed in society and oppressed her. She returned to her husband, readjusted to him, and created a good reputation which helped her to become an example of nobility in the society.
Place of Woman and Man in Society
The second most important theme is the theme of man and woman and their place in society. It is important to say, that this issue was quite new for the original Norwegian and Victorian society. Henrik Ibsen was the first person who dared to reveal it and debate about it from the stage.
“He pointed to the inevitable confusion over matters of right and wrong that inescapably follows when a woman is judged by man’s law, and when in consequence her natural instincts are brought into conflict with the notions of authority she has grown up with” (Ibsen, 1981).
Environment and Destiny of a Person
Oswald Alving suffered from inherited genetics which have already determined his destiny. Mrs. Alving revealed how environment could influence the destiny of a person. The husband was blamed for his flaws from the point of view of woman. The wife was accused in infidelity because she left her husband for the sake of another man.
To sum up, it is worth saying that the dramatic tension is created not by external events, and by revelation of the story secrets and its underlying theme. The play is rich in acute psychological insight and it discusses serious problems of ordinary people. The themes of social oppression and the place of man and woman in society which are revealed in the play were taken from the original background of Norwegian and Victorian society of those times. Henrik Ibsen used literature to debate about the existing problems and make the audience think how to make changes.