Mrs Alving in 'Ghosts' by Ibsen

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Through excessive parallelism and constant reference to “ghosts,” Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen portrays a view on the rewards of duty that clashes sharply with the accepted views of the time. In his native country of Norway, and indeed all around the world in the year 1881, ‘duty’ was seen as a powerful motivator in both religion and society. The abstract concept of duty was what constrained society into ‘acceptable’ boundaries, and people without a sense of duty were often shunned and rejected by their fellow citizens. Henrik Ibsen was well-known for his somewhat controversial plays. Just before writing Ghosts, “Ghosts” he wrote A Doll’s House about a young woman seeking to escape the bonds of duty. While the classic feminist story in A Doll’s House has a hint of hope for Nora Helmer, who decides to speak up for her own rights as a woman and as a human being, Ghosts seems to me to be the gloomy alternative, as Mrs Alving overcomes years of subordination to her immoral (and now deceased) husband. The woman, Nora, desires to free herself intellectually by breaking out of a marriage. Ghosts, in many ways, is an extension of “A Doll’s House”, with the main character Mrs. Alving acting as a future Nora. They are similar in some ways, but obviously they are both uniquely diverse. They play many of the same roles in their plays, and are probably the most similar two characters between "Ghosts" and "A Doll's House." As literary critic Edward Boyer puts it, “In many ways Mrs. Alving is an older and more mature Nora, freer yet at the same time more bound. She too wanted to break out of a marriage once, but was sent back to her ‘duties’ by Pastor Manders, who thereby awakened the first doubts in her mind about transmitted doctrine.” Ibsen focused his pieces on commenting on the often hypocritical sense of duty that people of his time supported. In his own words, “Ghosts had to be written; I could not let “the doll’s house” be my last word; after Nora, Mrs. Alving had...
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