Mrs. Alving's Monologue on Ghosts in Henrik Ibsen's play "Ghosts" 12th Grade

Mrs. Alving: "But I’m inclined to think we’re all ghosts, Pastor Manders; it’s not only the things that we’ve inherited from our fathers and mothers that live on in us, but all sorts of old dead ideas and old dead beliefs, and things of that sort. They’re not actually alive in us, but they’re rooted there all the same, and we can’t rid ourselves of them. I’ve only got to pick up a newspaper and when I read it I seem to see ghosts gliding between the lines. I should think there must be ghosts all over the country – as countless as grains of sand. And we are, all of us, so pitifully afraid of the light.”

In this seminal passage from his play “Ghosts”, playwright Henrik Ibsen utilizes the monologue of Mrs. Alving to vividly convey her growing dissent towards the traditions and social norms pervading Norway during the late nineteenth century. The play was written as a social commentary, and Ibsen foresaw some controversy upon its release, and was intent on expressing his views on the human condition at the time. Throughout the play, “Ghosts”, and especially in Mrs. Alving’s memorable monologue, he indicts the dominant ideology of society in...

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