Ghosts Final - 1 Jacob Zipperstein May 2010 The Haunting...

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Jacob Zipperstein May 2010 The Haunting Memories of Generations In the play Ghosts , Henrik Ibsen brilliantly analyzes the theme of conflicts between generations . Throughout the play , the audience is introduced to characters from the late 19 th century and how they dealt with controversial love and family situations . The motif of hostility between generations becomes increasingly evident through Ibsen’s protagonist Mrs . Alving, the widow of Captain Alving. Critics have fervently attacked this play suggesting that Ibsen destroyed his reputation by writing a play with no ending and thieving ideas from Greek tragedies . However , if one were to look deeper into the play, it becomes evident that the ending act is truly magnificent . In Ibsen’s Ghosts , there are many masks behind each protagonist , complicated by the lingering presence of events that occurred to the characters before what is witnessed on the stage . Ibsen ingeniously focuses on the ways in which events and people that are long gone continue to stay alive and reverberate throughout the generation of their descendants . The most obvious ghosts , or haunting memories, are those of Johanna the maid and Chamberlain Alving . These characters have been dead for years , but when seeing Oswald, her son , touching Regina, Johanna’s daughter, in the same dining room where her husband had once made a flirtation gesture on Johanna a generation earlier , Mrs. Alving quickly realizes that “ghosts” are among them . 1
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Many of the events from the past coil around another , entangled like a careless rope, but one event in particular seems to be at the center of the Alving family’s struggles: it is a instant that happens quickly , nearly thirty years earlier, when Mrs. Alving shows up at Pastor Manders door with the words , “Here I am. Take me.” At that brief moment in the past , all of the play’s major themes — love , lust, repression, honor, independence and opportunity — intersected , and the results of that lost moment are as critical as anything in these present, unfulfilled lives . Mrs . Alving had been young and fatherless, talked into marriage by her mother and aunts who strongly felt that marriage to this elegant young sailor (the future Captain Alving ) would be the most glamorous decision she could make. Their encouragement was , however, based on the postulation that once married, the captain would stop being a sailor and switch to a full time husband . Unfortunately , Mrs. Alving later uses the word “dissolute” to describe her husband , a word that identifies him as being morally unstable . Because Mrs. Alving had already married another man, Pastor Manders had no choice but to turn her away from his doorstep . To the Pastor
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Ghosts Final - 1 Jacob Zipperstein May 2010 The Haunting...

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