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Analysis

Literary Devices in Ghosts

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In the opening stage directions, Ibsen establishes a big wall of glass through which a "gloomy fjord landscape" is visible. The rain never stops. It particularly oppresses Oswald, who complains tha...

Setting

Rosenvold is the Alving's estate on the west coast of Norway. It is remote, encompassed by mountains and fjords, and enshrouded in rain. In October, for example, there's precipitation 25 days of th...

Genre

Ibsen actually subtitled Ghosts "A Family Drama." In the 19th century context, this almost seems like a dark joke. Can you imagine Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Norway settling in for a nice exploration of...

Tone

From the start of the play, even before we know what's going on, we are watching a powerful woman on a desperate mission. Mrs. Alving may greet Pastor Manders with a moment of lightness, but there'...

Writing Style

Melodrama is the popular theatrical form Ibsen used to express his ideas. Ibsen goes far beyond the traditional signposts of melodrama – think stock characters, contrived plots, and suspense....

What's Up With the Title?

Ibsen doesn't leave us guessing about what the title Ghosts means. There are four big mentions of ghosts in the play: when Regina and Oswald are caught making out; in Mrs. Alving's long speech abou...

What's Up With the Ending?

At the end of the play, Mrs. Alving clutches morphine and looks at her withered son as a ruthless, revelatory sun spills over the scene. An articulate woman, she ends the play screaming monosyllabl...

Tough-o-Meter

The language in Ghosts isn't that challenging, though some translations are a little stuffy and old-fashioned. Some of the longer speeches can be difficult to get through (sorry, Pastor Manders). A...

Plot Analysis

Everyone is at Rosenvold getting ready to dedicate the Captain Alving Orphanage. Figures from the past convene on Mrs. Alving's house. Oswald has come home; Pastor Manders is on a visit; Engstrand...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Tragedy

Mrs. Alving readies everything for the dedication of the Orphanage.Once this ceremony is over, Mrs. Alving believes that her late husband will be finally, truly dead. She'll banish her ghosts and m...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Mrs. Alving wants to bury her husband and all the lies she told about him, but there's a hitch. Captain Alving's illegitimate daughter – living proof of his true nature – has attracted...

Trivia

Did you know that James Joyce loved Ibsen and learned Dano-Norwegian so he could read him in the original? Joyce wrote a sweet letter to the old man. (Source)Ibsen is the most produced playwright a...

Steaminess Rating

This play refers to sex a lot – premarital sex, extramarital sex, sex with maids, sex with relatives, sex between prostitutes and sailors, and so on. And of course syphilis, an STD, figures p...
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