by Henrik Ibsen
Ghosts Theme of Lies and Deceit
You know that Avett Brothers song "The Weight of Lies?" They sing, "The weight of lies will bring you down, and follow you to every town, 'cause nothing happens here that doesn't happen there." That's what's going on in Ghosts. The protagonist, Mrs. Alving, thinks she can cover her tracks. If she plays nice, pretends to believe in God, and just gets this darn orphanage up and running, no one will ever know that her marriage was a sham. The play's big hypocrite, Pastor Manders, agrees she should keep everything under wraps. But when her son comes home, the weight of her lies is written all over his face. For the first time in twenty years, Mrs. Alving has to tell the truth.
Questions About Lies and Deceit
- There are a number of lies told in this play. Do you think any of them is justified? Which ones?
- How does the theme of "Lies and Deceit" interact with that of "Respect and Reputation" in this play?
- Let's take for granted for a moment that all the characters are manipulative. Is the society to blame, or is this human nature?
Chew on This
The middle-class community around the main characters of Ghosts is so oppressive that each character is forced to commit some deception.
In Ghosts, the ability to deceive is as important to social standing as money.