The drama of the great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) “Ghosts” was written in the autumn of 1881. It is a direct result of the flow of thoughts that was caused in Ibsen by work on the “Doll House”, whose denouement angered the modern public: the wife, realizing the falsity of her position in the marriage, decides to break the bonds of this marriage, leaves the house, leaving her children. Ibsen knew how superficial was the morality in whose name they condemned the end of his drama.
Answering reproaches for the denouement of the “Doll House”, Ibsen wrote: “Yes, Children; do you think it would be better for them if such a marriage continues? ” The answer to this question is “Ghosts”, representing the denouement of the history of a false marriage, the bonds of which the wife did not dare to break, despite the fact that she realized how little this marriage corresponded to a true conjugal union.
Lothar writes of the drama “Ghosts”: “This is the story of one marriage, where the wife, despite the lie with which her marriage is connected, remains with her husband.”
Sometimes the drama is attributed to naturalism, but Ibsen has always remained a realist; modernity served as the building material for the playwright. Although “Ghosts” were often labeled “drama about a venereal disease,” drama not only and not so much in that. A closer look reveals that Ibsen was most interested in the main character, Fru Alving, her rebellion and evolution.
The conflict of drama in general can be defined as the discrepancy between the appearance of a successful marriage (which the main character has been forced to create and maintain for many years) and the true essence of this marriage, built on a false basis.
Mr. La Heroine, Fru Alving, like Nora (the heroine of the “Dollhouse”), wanted to rebel against the generally accepted law and order, wanted to destroy the marriage, which was on a false basis, but her strength changed her. Pastor Manders managed to convince her, to which Fru Alving turned to in a moment of despair. Pastor Manders, the bearer of obsolete ideas, pointed out to the heroine as a sacred duty that she herself thought was humiliation and shame.
She had to return to the man whom she had left full of horror and disgust – to her unloved, morally ill, lecherous husband. This is the greatest mistake of fr Alving, this is her fault. Shlenter wrote about the heroine’s guilt: “He (Ibsen. – N. D.) asks her: why did you succumb and, against your inner voice, let yourself be carried away by what seems reasonable only with a short-sighted, narrow view of things?
When you, succumbing to the voice of cold reason, preferred the caretaker to your lover, you went to a lie, you took sin into your soul. One sin begets another. Then, for the second time, you did not obey your inner voice and obeyed the dictates of walking morality.
You shouldn’t have returned to your husband who disgusted you. Remaining his wife, you took a new sin to the soul, a new lie. ” The result of Fr. Alving’s refusal to fight, her humility was the birth of a terminally ill (due to bad heredity) son.
This became the punishment of fr Alving. For many years, the heroine had to hide from others the true essence of her marriage, she tried to hide the dissolute life of her husband, chamberlain Alving. In order to prevent his son from knowing the truth about his father, Fru Alving had to send Oswald out of the house early and leave him unaware of the true nature of his father. “I didn’t know my father at all,” Oswald testifies, “I only remember that I was sick of time because of his mercy.”
As a result, a miserable marriage, based on lies, humiliated and crippled even such a nature-richly gifted nature as Fru Alving, and reduced her to the level of a cowardly slave of the same walking morality against which she was initially eager to rebel. The sacrifice brought by fr Alving did not make chamberlain Alving a better person. In the nineteenth year of his married life, he died as dissolute as he was before the crown. Lies in marriage give rise to one disastrous consequence after another.
Oswald’s life, for which fr Alving is responsible, is also ruined. Mother could not save her son. By the fact that she sent him out of the house, she only accelerated the process of destroying his health, for he lived as a perfectly healthy person, carrying a “wormhole inside”. In vain Oswald sought his guilt in the disease, she is not there.
Oswald bears punishment for the excesses of his father, from whom he inherited the embryo of decay. He is a gifted Artist, but was marked by death before he began to live. However, the concept of heredity, no matter how scientifically presented it is in “Ghosts”, does not lose its ethical character with Ibsen, according to which the tragic present is a consequence of a false past.
Oswald must perish, since he is a product of lies. Truth brings with it health, a lie is a disastrous beginning.
Oswald learns that he is doomed to madness. But his catastrophe is also the catastrophe of his mother, who did not have the courage to break up with the sinner before she gave birth to a child.
Thus, the conflict of “Ghosts” is a clash of individual freedom and outdated dogmas, lying laws of society that do not give a person freedom and ruin his life. A paradoxical situation arises when a person who follows the generally accepted norms of morality, thereby commits a crime against true morality.
By the time the action is played out, Fru Alving has completely freed itself from authority and tradition. At one time, Fru Alving capitulated to “ghosts” (“Any obsolete concepts, beliefs and the like” – this explains the meaning of the word “ghosts” to Fru Alving), now she speaks with contempt of this surrender as cowardice.
She considers it a crime that pastor Manders once forced her to return to her husband, although she and the pastor truly loved each other. “Yes, you forced me to submit to what you called duty, duty,” Pastor Fru Alving reproaches. “You praised what my whole soul was indignant against.”
And so I began to consider, analyze your teaching. I wanted to unravel only one bundle, but as soon as I untied it, everything sprawled at the seams. I saw that this is a machine line. ” Fru Alving opened his eyes to the past and the present, but the tragedy of fate with a strong spirit, powerful will and knowing her way of the heroine lies in the fact that society and that light, of which Pastor Manders represents, blocked her true path.
A marriage based on love, even if not legalized by the church and not accepted by society, would paradoxically be less sinful than a legal marriage, but based on lies. Pastor Manders committed a great sin by killing love in heroine. All life fr Alving, as Pastor Manders himself says, “is nothing but a chasm, a disguised chasm”. Fru Alving acknowledges his guilt and regrets the past: “I did not have to throw a cover on the life that Alving led.
But then I couldn’t do otherwise by my cowardice. ” It is not enough to free oneself from “ghosts” only internally, in one’s consciousness – one must still engage in a direct struggle against what impedes the free development of man. And Fru Alving is ready to do this: “I can no longer put up with all these conventions that bind hand and foot. I want to achieve freedom. ”
However, this is not easy. Indeed, Fru Alving is constrained by the conventions of traditional morality perceived from childhood. “Since childhood I was taught duty, duties and the like, and for a long time I remained under the influence of this teaching,” she says to Oswald. But, despite this, Fru Alving seeks to get rid of his cowardice before the “ghosts” and recognize individual freedom as a primary necessity.
For the sake of this freedom of personality and happiness, fr Alving wants to finally break with the outdated laws of society, she is even ready to agree to the union of Oswald with Regina (his father’s sister):
“If I weren’t such a miserable coward, I would tell him (Oswald. – N. D.): marry her (Regina. – N. D.) or settle down as you like, but only without cheating. ”
Oswald, who lived outside a destructive environment and who carries an undeserved punishment (“… the sins of the fathers fall on the children,” the doctor explains to Oswald the cause of the disease), grew up different. He is free from dogma and conventions, he clearly sees and distinguishes morality and immorality, he is not alien to the joy of life.
There, apparently in Paris, where he lived among young cheerful artists, there was “a beautiful, bright, free life!” Here, in Norway, “people are taught to look at work as a curse and punishment for sins, and at life – as a vale of sorrow, from which the sooner, the better it is to get rid.”
Here in Norway there is no place for cheerfulness. “Yes, the joy of life, Mom, – here we have something little to know. Something I never feel her here, ”says Oswald. It is possible that the life of chamberlain Alving would have developed differently under different conditions. “For your father’s extraordinary cheerfulness, there wasn’t any real way out here,” says Fru Alving.
However, cheerfulness is in Regina, who escaped from her oppressive home and the world. But along with this, her father’s moral illness, selfishness, was also transmitted to her. Regina is led by calculation, her path is the path of not physical, but moral death.
Thus, the conflict of the drama also lies in the fact that obsolete dogmas, lying laws of morality, “ghosts” not only deprive a person of freedom – they do not give his life force, energy and cheerfulness an outlet.
By the Ghost Conflict, in fact, is not resolved, and the drama ends tragically: from the lips of her own son, the mother has to hear a rebuke that she gave him life. “I did not ask you for life,” Oswald says. “And what kind of life did you give me?” I do not need her! Take it back! ” And no one with such clarity as Fru Alving does not understand (when it’s too late) in the terrible confusion created by fate and its own fault.
But despite the tragic ending of the drama, a challenge to outdated norms and false ideas has been thrown, Ibsen’s desire to reveal the inner dysfunction of modern reality reaches its goal.