, originally titled Gengangere
(literally translated as Ghosts
), is a play by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. It was written in 1881 and first staged in 1882.
On an interesting side note, the play was originally written in Danish. The word "Gengangere" is Danish, not Norwegian. That is because Danish was the main written language in Norway at the time. For more on that discussion, see Norwegian Language Struggle
. Ibsen preferred writing in the language he was taught.
Helen Alving is about to dedicate an orphanage she has built in the memory of her dead husband, Captain Alving. She reveals to her spiritual advisor, Pastor Manders, that she has hidden the evils of her marriage, and has built the orphanage to deplete her husband's wealth so that their son, Oswald, might not inherit anything from him. Pastor Manders had previously advised her to return to her husband despite his philandering, and she followed his advice in the belief that her love for her husband would eventually reform him. However her husband's philandering continued until his death, and Mrs. Alving was unable to leave him prior for fear of being shunned by the community. During the action of the play she discovers that her son Oswald (whom she had sent away so that he would not be corrupted by his father) is suffering from inherited syphilis, and (worse) has fallen in love with Regina Engstrand, Mrs. Alving's maid, who is revealed to be an illegitimate daughter of Captain Alving, and thereby Oswald's own half-sister. The play concludes with Mrs. Alving having to decide whether or not to euthanize her son Oswald in accordance with his wishes. Her choice is left unknown.
Should not be confused with The Protector
", the Psych
", the Revolution
", and the Hidden Palms
". Should not be confused with the DC Comics
. Should not be confused with the board game Ghosts
. Should not be confused with the books Ghosts 1990
and Ghosts 1993
. Should not be confused with the films Ghosts 2005
and Ghosts 2006
This play provides examples of:
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Captain Alving was also a chamberlain, belonging to the upper upper class in Norwegian society. Also a cheating bastard and abuser of women.
- Cue the Sun: The play ends with the sun rising after three acts of rain. Ironically, none of the remaining players are able to appreciate it.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Osvald relates how his father once took him in his lap and forced him to smoke a cigar until he choked on it and had to throw up... And one wonders how he got his syphilis.
- Generation Xerox: Captain Alving was caught red handed with a housemaid in the parlor. Years later, Osvald is discovered in the parlor with the daughter of said housemaid (Regine Engstrand, who, as it turns out, was conceived in the former event. Which means... squick).
- Heroic BSOD: The very end of the play. Mrs Alving is considering Oswald`s plea to kill him when his mind goes. She can`t make up her mind. And there it all ends. With a Big "NO!".
- Love Martyr: Helen stayed with her cheating husband until the day he died. She came to regret that decision.
- Love Redeems: Helen Alving knew that her husband Captain Alving was a cheat, but she stayed with him in the hopes that he would be reformed. However, he remained a cheat all the way to his death.
- Oh Crap: Regine gets some serious willies when she discovers the identity of her true father.
- Sanity Slippage: Oswald`s illness sends him straight into blubbering at the end.
- Sinister Minister: Reverend Manders is not above striking a deal with Engstrand the carpenter, allowing him to build a brothel, or trying to gloss over the more questionable actions of Captain Alving. He was also the one who sealed the marriage between the housemaid and Engstrand, making Regina believe Engstrand was her father.
- Screw This Im Out Of Here: Regine solves it this way. Probably just as well.
- Your Cheating Heart: Deconstructed Trope. Captain Alving cheated on his wife until the day he died. This motivated her to try to drain up all his money and make sure his son Oswald inherited nothing from him. However, it turns out that Oswald has inherited syphilis from his father. Not only that, but he fell in love with Helen's maid, Regina Engstrand, who turns out to be Captain Alving's illegitimate daughter and Oswald's half-sister.