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Little Words, Big Ideas
Freedom and Confinement
The characters in Ghosts are trapped. Social obligations, class restrictions, religion, and family have them all in a vice grip. The main character, Mrs. Alving, is trapped by her own hang-ups. Lik...
"Duty" is a word repeated over and over in Ghosts. Everyone has duties related to the role they play in the society. The wife/mother is duty-bound to protect her husband's reputation (no matter how...
With his realistic depiction of this dysfunctional family, Ibsen pushed the envelope like the South Park guys do. He wasn't afraid to show families as they are – sometimes ugly and unseemly....
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." Tha...
Respect and Reputation
You know how politicians and celebrities need to be careful about what they do? If they make a misstep, people find out about it. Things are like that for everybody in the world of Ghosts. There's...
Memory and the Past
We can tell from the title of Ghosts that the past may play a role here. The spooky, creaky Alving house is collapsing under the weight of the past. There's a memory of a misbehaving father, compou...
Society and Class
In Ghosts, it seems as though the higher your social position, the more miserable you are. You probably had to make some painful sacrifices to get there, for example marrying a man you loathe. You...
Guilt and Blame
Ibsen saw guilt and shame as Protestant control mechanisms and spent much of his life criticizing them. He wrote about the two emotions almost obsessively in his literary work, and wasn't a fan of...
There's lots of dirty sex in this play. We're talking prostitution, infidelity, and STDs. Well, we're not really talking about it, and that's the problem. The characters in Ghosts treat sex like yo...
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