As the defender of the "ghosts" Mrs. Alving is trying to banish, Pastor Manders serves as the antagonist. He stands between Mrs. Alving and her true self, committed as he is to hiding the truth for the sake of propriety. His moral weakness stands in contrast to Mrs. Alving's courageous confrontation of the myths that have governed her life.
He might be dead, but Mrs. Alving spends almost the entire play trying to kill him all over again. His ghostly presence, showing up in Oswald's face, behavior, and illness, keeps urging her on. Until Oswald introduces the idea of the joy of life, Mrs. Alving blames all of her pain on Captain Alving and directs her action toward annihilating his memory.