Henrik Ibsen’s play “Ghosts” is rich with symbolism, which serves to underscore the themes and ideas of the play. The use of symbolism in “Ghosts” is both subtle and powerful, and helps to create a sense of foreboding and doom throughout the play.
- Orphanage – One of the most prominent symbols in the play is the Orphanage, where much of the action takes place. The Orphanage serves as a metaphor for the decay and corruption that is eating away at the characters in the play. The building is described as being old, dilapidated, and in need of repair. The walls are damp, the windows are cracked, and the roof leaks. The Orphanage is a place of death and decay, where unwanted children are sent to die. It is a fitting setting for a play that is concerned with the decay and corruption of society, and the ways in which it can destroy human lives.
- Storm – Another important symbol in the play is the storm that rages outside the Orphanage. The storm is a metaphor for the turmoil and chaos that grips the characters within. As the storm intensifies, so does the tension between the characters. The storm also serves to underscore the idea that the characters are powerless to control their own lives. They are caught in the grip of forces beyond their control, and the storm is a physical manifestation of this.
- Oswald – The character of Oswald is also symbolic. He represents the legacy of Captain Alving’s moral corruption and disease. Oswald is suffering from syphilis, a disease that he inherited from his father. He is a physical embodiment of the sins of the past, and his illness serves as a metaphor for the decay and corruption that is eating away at the characters in the play. Oswald’s illness is also symbolic of the way in which the past can have a profound impact on the present, and the ways in which the sins of the past can come back to haunt us.
- Ghosts – The idea of ghosts is also highly symbolic in the play. The ghost of Captain Alving is a constant presence throughout the play, and serves as a reminder of the sins of the past. The characters are haunted by their own “ghosts” – their past mistakes, secrets, and guilt. The play is a searing critique of Victorian society, and the ways in which it creates these “ghosts” that torment and trap the characters. The ghosts in the play serve as a metaphor for the legacy of moral corruption and disease that is eating away at the characters, and for the ways in which the past can come back to haunt us.
- Light and Darkness – The use of light and darkness is also highly symbolic in the play. The characters are often depicted as being in shadow or in darkness, which serves to underscore the idea that they are trapped in a world of secrecy, lies, and deceit. The darkness also serves to highlight the decay and corruption that is eating away at the characters. The use of light is also symbolic, representing the truth and the possibility of redemption. However, the characters are unable to escape the darkness that surrounds them, and are trapped in a world of moral decay and disease.
In conclusion, the use of symbolism in Henrik Ibsen’s play “Ghosts” is highly effective. The symbols serve to underscore the themes and ideas of the play, and create a sense of foreboding and doom throughout.