Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Direct and Grim, with a Touch of the Sardonic
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's something buzzing in her as this longed-for day approaches. After tomorrow, she'll be able to forget her husband ever existed. Mrs. Alving's forward drive gives the play a tension that is underscored by the moody, gloomy weather. Ibsen isn't humorless, however. He makes a number of dark jokes, often at Pastor Manders's expense, that point up the petty ideals of the Norwegian bourgeois (middle class).