MRS. ALVING: I should never have lied about Alving[… ] But out of duty and convention I lied to my own son. Year after year. What a coward… what a coward I’ve been[… ]When I heard Regina and Osvald in there, I felt as though I were seeing ghosts. I almost think that we are all ghosts, Pastor Manders. It’s not just what we have inherited from our mothers and fathers that haunts us. There are all sorts of dead ideas, all sorts of dead beliefs. They are not alive in us but they remain within us nonetheless, and we can’t ever get rid of them[…]
They lie as thick upon us as grains of sand, and we’re all so desperately afraid of the light[… ] When you drove me back into the paths of duty and righteousness, when you praised as right and noble all the things that my soul rebelled against, things that I knew were obscene, then I began to examine the fabric of your “teachings”. I only wanted to pick at a single thread … but when I pulled it, and it came loose, the whole thing started to unravel. It was sewn by a machine. MANDERS: Is this the reward for my life’s hardest struggle? MRS.
ALVING: Call it rather your most pathetic defeat. MANDERS: It was my life’s greatest victory, Helene, a victory over myself. MRS. ALVING: It was a crime against both of us. If I acted Helene Alving it would be very hard for me to identify with the situation she is going through. I have never been forced to marry someone or never had to live with a man who betrayed me all the time and never did anything even though people thought he was dilligent and sympathetic. Nonetheless I know the feeling when your life seems full of regrets and when you wish you had done everything differently.
There are thoughts like: “I wish I had studied for that test” ” I wish I had just sad ANYTHING to him” “I wish I had told her what I really think about her” There are regrets everywhere even though one does not always notice it, because they often disappear as quickly as they first came up. Still, I can use these feelings of regret, that I already know from my own experience, for the acting of my character. QUESTIONS I WOULD ASK HELENE ALVING (AND MY ANSWERS TO THEM): 1) What would you change if you could turn back time?
Naturally I would say that I wouldn’t marry Mr. Alving a second time, but on the other hand I wouldn’t have Osvald now, if there hadn’t been that marriage. I can’t express how empty my life would be without Osvald. 2) Why didn’t you marry Pastor Manders if you both loved each other so much? First of all Mr. Manders wanted to become Pastor and that was his priority. Secondly I’m not sure if my family would have let me marry him because he was not as wealthy as Mr. Alving. And last but not least I’m not even sure if Mr.
Manders ever really loved me at all. 3) Do you still love Mr. Manders? Yes, indeed, I do. Still, I have learned to cope with the fact that I will never again have more than memories with him and that I can only have him as a good friend. However I’m glad that I have at least once in my life really loved someone. Mrs. Alving’s superobjective would probably be that she can never escape the Ghosts that are inside of her. Her life is filled with guilt. She blames herself for having married Mr. Alving.
She regrets having lied to Osvald all these years. On the other hand she would do the same thing again because she knows that it would hurt Osvald so much to know that his father was so degenerate. It is painful to her to think of how her husband betrayed her and what is even more to remember the day she left her husband and came to Pastor Manders crying, “Here I am. Take me. ” She will never forget his reaction. He drove her back into the paths of duty and righteousness, even though it was her husband who had come off the way from the beginning.
But the Pastor only blamed her and never stopped telling her about her duty. Maybe this was his way to cope with that hopeless love. MANDERS: To expect happiness in this life is a form of arrogance, Mrs. Alving. It is the sign of a rebellious soul. What right do we have to happiness? We must do our duty, Mrs. Alving, and your duty was to stand by the man whom had chosen as your husband, the man to whom you were bound by the most sacred bonds… It was your humble duty to bear the cross which a higher power had chosen fo you.
But instead, that rebellious soul of yours flings down that cross[… ] I was only a humble instrument in the hand of a great purpose. You returned to your duty and to obedience: hasn’t that proved a blessing for you ever since? The GHOSTS from her past will never leave Helene Alving. In his Drama Henrik Ibsen demonstrated the passive society of the 19th century or even nowadays and the hypcritical morals of the Church back then. The climax at the end prevents any illusions of bourgeois conventions.
People can’t cope with the truth because they would then realize that their whole life was a lie, which leads us on to the often discussed matter of the life-lie. If someone finally admits the truth to himself and his fellow citizens, he will have the freedom to actually change his life and not only complaining about it. All in all Ghosts is another play that shows us that the truth will always sooner or later come to the surface and that it’s better to see things the way they are, than be disillusioned later on.