Play: Ghosts , by Henrik Ibsen (1881)
Characters: 2 women, 3 men
Setting: Mrs. Alving's country estate by a large fjord in West Norway.
Summary: In the opening scene, Regina (Engstrand's daughter and Mrs. Alving's maid) is talking with
her father Engstrand. He tells her that he wishes to establish a home for wayfaring seaman and seeks
her to reside at the house with him for "atmosphere." She is obviously against this idea and gets rid of
him in the most expedient manner. Then Pastor Manders enters the house to speak with Mrs. Alving
about the dedication of her orphanage later that day. Many items of business are discussed and the
reader discovers the hold which duty claims upon these people. Osvald, Mrs. Alving
quote s son, has
recently returned from Paris and is rather ill. He was sent away when he was six by his mother so
that he would not contract the socially diseased attitude of his father, Captain Alving. During the
course of action we find that Osvald is quite taken with Regina and desires to marry her, or going
against the strict rules of the area live with her and have children out of wedlock. At the end of act
III, the orphanage burns to the ground by means that are unclear. Engstrand claims the he saw Pastor
Manders snuff out a candle and the wick was tossed into wood shavings thus igniting the fire. Pastor
Manders does not remember this, but Engstrand steps in and offers to take the blame as a kind of
blackmail for money. In the end, Mrs. Alving and Osvald sit together with the orphanage burned and
Regina gone. Osvald tells his mother that his illness is terminal and to help him die with morphine pills
he has saved when the time comes. The final lines of the play are spoken by Osvald asking: "The sun
- the sun." He sees the sun shining over his home for the first time and is not able to enjoy it.
Personal reaction and feelings: The title of the play misled me for a few pages, but I quickly
realized what the author intended. The ghosts of the play seem...