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Manders. Well, I mean people in such inde-
pendent and influential positions that one cannot
help allowing some weight to their opinions.

Mrs. Alving. There are several people of that
sort here, who would very likely be shocked if



26 Ghosts. [Act I.

M ANDERS. There, you see! In town we have
many such people. Think of all my colleague's
adherents ! People would be only too ready to
interpret our action as a sign that neither you nor I
had the right faith in a Higher Providence.

MRS. Alving. But for your own part, my dear
Pastor, you can at least tell yourself that

MANDERS. Yes, I know — I know ; my conscience
would be quite easy, that is true enough. But never-
theless we should not escape grave misinterpretation ;
and that might very likely react unfavourably upon
the Orphanage.

Mrs. Alving. Well, in that case, then

MANDERS. Nor can I lose sight of the difficult —
I may even say painful — position / might perhaps
get into. In the leading circles of the town people
are much taken up about this Orphanage. It is, of
course, founded partly for the benefit of the town, as
well ; and it is to be hoped it will, to a considerable
extent, result in lightening our Poor Rates. Now, as
1 have been your adviser, and have had the business
matters in my hands, I cannot but fear that I may
have to bear the brunt of fanaticism.

Mrs. ALVING. Oh, you mustn't run the risk of
that.

MANDERS. To say nothing of the attacks that
would assuredly be made upon me in certain papers
and periodicals, which

Mrs. Alving. Enough, my dear Pastor Manders.
That consideration is quite decisive.

Manders. Then you do not wish the Orphanage
insured ?



Act I.] Ghosts. 27

Mrs. Alving. No. We'll let it alone.

Manders {leaning back in his chair). But if a
disaster were to happen ? — one can never tell. Would
you be able to make good the damage ?

Mrs. Alving. No ; I tell you plainly I should do
nothing of the kind.

Manders. Then I must tell you, Mrs. Alving, we
are taking no small responsibility upon ourselves.

Mrs. ALVING. Do you think we can do other-
wise ?

Manders. No, that's just the thing; we really
cannot do otherwise. We must not expose ourselves
to misinterpretation ; and we have no right whatever
to give offence to our neighbours.

Mrs. Alving. You, as a clergyman, certainly
should not.

MANDERS. I really think, too, we may trust that
such an institution has fortune on its side ; in fact,
that it stands under a Special Providence.

Mrs. Alving. Let us hope so, Pastor Manders.

Manders. Then we'll let the matter alone.

Mrs. Alving. Yes, certainly.

Manders. Very well. Just as you think best
{Makes a note.) Then — no insurance.

Mrs. Alving. It's rather curious that you should
just happen to mention the matter to-day.

Manders. I have often thought of asking you
about it

Mrs. Alving. for we very nearly had a fire

down there yesterday.

Manders. You don't say so !

Mrs. Alving. Oh, it was of no importance. A



28 Ghosts. [Act I

heap of shavings had caught fire in the carpenter's
workshop.

MANDERS. Where Engstrand works ?

Mrs. Alving. Yes. They say he's often very
careless with matches.

MANDERS. He has so many things in his head,
that man — so many temptations. Thank God, he's
now striving to lead a decent life, I hear.

Mrs. ALVING. Indeed! Who says so?

Manders. He himself assures me of it. And he's
certainly a capital workman.

Mrs. Alving. Oh, yes ; so long as he's sober.

Manders. Yes, that's a sad weakness. But he's
often driven to it by his bad leg, he says. Last time
he was in town I was really touched by him. He
came and thanked me so warmly for having got him
work here, so that he might be near Regina.

Mrs. Alving. He doesn't see much of her.

Manders. Oh, yes ; he has a talk with her every
day. He told me so himself.

Mrs. Alving. Well, it may be so.

Manders. He feels so acutely that he needs
some one to hold him back when temptation comes.
That's what I can't help liking about Jacob Engstrand;
he comes to you helplessly, accusing himself and con-
fessing his own weakness. The last time he was
talking to me — Believe me, Mrs. Alving, supposing it
were a real necessity for him to have Regina home
again

MRS. ALVING {rising hastily). Regina !

MANDERS. you must not set yourself against it

Mrs. ALVING. Indeed I shall set myself against



Act I.] Ghost 29

it! And besides — Regina is to have a position in the
Orphanage.

Manders. But, after all, remember he's her
father

MRS. Alving. Oh ! I know best what sort of a
father he has been to her. No ! she shall never go to
him with my goodwill.

MANDERS {rising). My dear lady, don't take the
matter so warmly. You misjudge Engstrand sadly.
You seem to be quite terrified

Mrs. Alvixg {more quietly). It makes no difference,
I have taken Regina into my house, and there she
shall stay. {Listens.) Hush, mv dear Mr. Manders;
don't say any more about it {Her face lights up with
gladness?) Listen ! there's Oswald coming down-
stairs. Now we'll think of no one but him.

(Oswald Alvixg, in a light overcoat, liat in
Jiand and smoking a large meerscJiaum, enters
through the door on the left ; he stops in the
doorway?)

Oswald. Oh ! I beg your pardon ; I thought you
were in the study. {Comes forward.) Good -morning,
Pastor Manders?

Manders {staring). Ah ! How strange !

Mrs. Alving. Well now, what do you think of
him, Mr. Manders?

Manders. I — I — can it really be ?

Oswald. Yes, it's really the Prodigal Son, sir.

M ANDERS {protesting). My dear young friend !

Oswald. Well, then, the Reclaimed Son.

MRS. Alving. Oswald remembers how much you
were opposed to his becoming a painter.



30 Ghosts. [Act I.

Manders. To our human eyes many a step seems

dubious which afterwards proves (wrings his hand).

Anyhow, welcome, welcome home. Why, my dear
Oswald — I suppose I may call you by your Christian
name ?

Oswald. What else should you call me ?

Manders. Very good. What I wanted to say
was this, my dear Oswald — you mustn't believe that I
utterly condemn the artist's calling. I have no doubt
there are many who can keep their inner self
unharmed in that profession, as in any other.

Oswald. Let us hope so.

MRS. ALVING {beaming with delight). I know one
who has kept both his inner and outer self unharmed.
Just look at him, Mr. Manders.

OSWALD (moves restlessly about the room). Yes,
yes, my dear mother ; let's say no more about it

MANDERS. Why, certainly — that's undeniable.
And you have begun to make a name for yourself
already. The newspapers have often spoken of you,
most favourably. By-the-bye, just lately they haven't
mentioned you so often, I fancy.

OSWALD (up in the conservatory). I haven't been
able to paint so much lately.

Mrs. Alving. Even a painter needs a little rest
now and then.

Manders. I can quite believe it And mean-
while he can be gathering his forces for some great
work.

OSWALD. Yes. — Mother, will dinner soon be ready ?

Mrs. Alving. In less than half-an-hour. He has
a capital appetite, thank God.



Act I.] Ghosts. 31

MANDERS. And a taste for tobacco, too.

Oswald. I found my father's pipe in my room,
and so

Manders. Aha ! then that accounts for it.

MRS. ALVING. For what ?

Manders. When Oswald stood there, in the door-
way, with the pipe in his mouth, I could have sworn
I saw his father, large as life.

Oswald. No, really ?

Mrs. Alving. Oh ! how can you say so ? Oswald
takes after me.

Manders. Yes, but there's an expression about
the corners of the mouth — something about the lips
that reminds one exactly of Alving ; at any rate, now
that he's smoking.

Mrs. Alving. Not in the least. Oswald has
rather a clerical curve about his mouth, I think.

Manders. Yes, yes ; some of my colleagues have
much the same expression.

Mrs. Alving. But put your pipe away, my dear
boy ; I won't have smoking in here.

Oswald (does so). By all means. I only wanted
to try it ; for I once smoked it when I was a child.

Mrs. Alving. You ?

Oswald. Yes. I was quite small at the time. I
recollect I came up to father's room one evening when
he was in great spirits.

Mrs. Alving. Oh, you can't recollect anything
of these times.

Oswald. Yes, I recollect distinctly. He took me
up on his knees, and gave me the pipe. " Smoke,
boy," he said ; " smoke away, boy." And I smoked



32 Ghosts. [Act I

as hard as I could, until I felt I was growing quite
pale, and the perspiration stood in great drops on my
forehead. Then he burst out laughing heartily

MANDERS. That was most extraordinary.

Mrs. Alving. My dear friend, it's only something
Oswald has dreamt

Oswald. No, mother, I assure you I didn't
dream it. For — don't you remember this ? — you
came and carried me out into the nursery. Then I
was sick, and I saw that you were crying. — Did father
often play such pranks ?

M ANDERS. In his youth he overflowed with the
joy of life *

Oswald. And yet he managed to do so much in
the world ; so much that was good and useful ; and
he died so young, too.

Manders. Yes, you have inherited the name of
an active and worthy man, my dear Oswald Alving.
No doubt it will be an incentive to you

Oswald. It ought to, indeed.

Manders, It was good of you to come home for
the ceremony in his honour.

Oswald. I could do no less for my father.

Mrs. Alving. And I am to keep him so long !
That's the best of all.

Manders. You're going to pass the winter at
home, I hear.

OSWALD. My stay is indefinite, sir. But, oh !
how delightful it is to be at home again !

• " Var en sserdeles livsglad mand " — literally, " was a man who
took the greatest pleasure in life," la joU de vivre — an expression which
frequently recurs in this play.



Act I.] Ghosts. 33

MRS. ALVING {beaming). Yes, isn't it ?

MANDERS {looking sympathetically at him). You
went out into the world early, my dear Oswald.

Oswald. I did. I sometimes wonder whether it
wasn't too early.

Mrs. Alving. Oh, not at all. A healthy lad is all
the better for it ; especially when he's an only child.
He oughtn't to hang on at home with his mother
and father and get spoilt

MANDERS. It's a very difficult question, Mrs.
Alving. A child's proper place is, and must be, the
home of his fathers.

OSWALD. There I quite agree with you, Pastor
Manders.

MANDERS. Only look at your own son — there's
no reason why we shouldn't say it in his presence —
what has the consequence been for him ? He's six
or seven and twenty, and has never had the oppor-
tunity of learning what home life really is.

Oswald. I beg your pardon, Pastor ; there you're
quite mistaken.

Manders. Indeed ? I thought you had lived
almost exclusively in artistic circles.

Oswald. So I have.

Manders. And chiefly among the younger
artists.

Oswald. Yes, certainly.

Manders. But I thought few of these young
fellows could afford to set up house and support a
family.

Oswald. There are many who can't afford to
marry, sir.

vol. 11. 3



34 Ghosts. [ACT I.

Manders. Yes, that's just what I say.

Oswald. But they can have a home for all that
And several of them have, as a matter of fact ; and
very pleasant, comfortable homes they are, too.

(MRS. ALVING follows with br eat Id ess interest;
nods, but says nothing?)

MANDERS. Hut I am not talking of bachelors'
quarters. By a " home " I understand the home of a
family, where a man lives with his wife and children.

OSWALD. Yes ; or with his children and his
children's mother.

Manders {starts; clasps his hands). But, good
heavens !

Oswald. Well ?

MANDERS. Lives with — his children's mother !

OSWALD. Yes. Would you have him turn his
children's mother out of doors ?

MANDERS. Then it's illicit relations you are
talking of! Irregular marriages, as people call them !

OSWALD. I have never noticed anything par-
ticularly irregular about the life these people lead.

Manders. But how is it possible that a — a young
man or young woman with any decent principles can
endure to live in that way ? — in the eyes of all the
world !

Oswald. What are they to do ? A poor young
artist — a poor girl — it costs a lot to get married.
What are they to do ?

Manders. What are they to do ? Let me tell
you, Mr. Alving, what they ought to do. They ought
to exercise self-restraint from the first ; that's what
they ought to do.



Act I.] Ghosts. 35

Oswald. Such talk won't go far with warm-
blooded young people, over head and ears in love.

Mrs. ALVING. No, it wouldn't go far.

MANDERS (continuing). How can the authorities
tolerate such things ? Allow them to go on in the light
of day? (To Mrs. ALVING.) Had I not cause to be
deeply concerned about your son ? In circles where
open immorality prevails, and has even a sort of
prestige !

OSWALD. Let me tell you, sir, that I have been a
constant Sunday-guest in one or two such irregular
homes

MANDERS. On Sunday of all days !

Oswald. Isn't that the day to enjoy oneself?
Well, never have I heard an offensive word, and still
less have I witnessed anything that could be called
immoral. No ; do you know when and where I
have come across immorality in artistic circles ?

MANDERS. No, thank heaven, I don't !

Oswald. Well, then, allow me to inform you. I
have met with it when one or other of our pattern
husbands and fathers has come to Paris to have a
look round on his own account, and has done the
artists the honour of visiting their humble haunts.
They knew what was what These gentlemen could
tell us all about places and things we had never
dreamt of.

MANDERS. What ! Do you mean to say that
respectable men from home here would ?

Oswald. Have you never heard these respectable
men, when they got home again, talking about the way
in which immorality was running rampant abroad ?



36 Ghosts. [Act I.

Manders. Yes, of course.

Mrs. Alving. I have too.

Oswald. Well, you may take their word for it.
They know what they're talking about ! {Presses his
/lands to his head.) Oh ! that that great, free, glorious
life out there should be defiled in such a way !

Mrs. Alving. You mustn't get excited, Oswald.
You will do yourself harm.

OSWALD. Yes ; you're quite right, mother. It's
not good for me. You see, I'm wretchedly worn out
I'll go for a little turn before dinner. Excuse me,
Pastor ; I know you can't take my point of view ; but
I couldn't help speaking out.

{He goes out through the second door to the right '.)

Mrs. Alving. My poor boy !

MANDERS. You may well say so. Then that's
what he has come to !

(Mrs. Alving looks at him silently?)

MANDERS {walking up and down). He called
himself the Prodigal Son — alas ! alas !

(Mrs. ALVING continues looking at him.)

Manders. And what do you say to all this ?

Mrs. Alving. I say that Oswald was right in
every word.

Manders {stands still). Right ! Right ! In such
principles ?

Mrs. Alving. Here, in my loneliness, I have
come to the same way of thinking, Pastor Manders.
But I've never dared to say anything. Well ! now
my boy shall speak for me.

Manders. You are much to be pitied, Mrs,
Alving. But now I must speak seriously to you.



Act I.] Ghosts. 37

And now it is no longer your business manager and
adviser, your own and your late husband's early
friend, who stands before you. It is the priest — the
priest who stood before you in the moment of your
life when you had gone most astray.

Mrs. ALVING. And what has the priest to say to
me ?

MANDERS. I will first stir up your memory a
little. The time is well chosen. To-morrow will be
the tenth anniversary of your husband's death. To-
morrow the memorial in his honour will be unveiled.
To-morrow I shall have to speak to the whole
assembled multitude. But to-day I will speak to you
alone.

Mrs. Alving. Very well, Pastor Manders. Speak.

MANDERS. Do you remember that after less than
a year of married life you stood on the verge of an
abyss ? That you forsook your house and home ?
That you fled from your husband ? Yes, Mrs. Alving
— fled, fled, and refused to return to him, however
much he begged and prayed you ?

Mrs. Alving. Have you forgotten how infinitely
miserable I was in that first year ?

Manders. It is only the spirit of rebellion that
craves for happiness in this life. What right have we
human beings to happiness ? No, we have to do our
duty ! And your duty was to hold firmly to the man
you had once chosen and to whom you were bound
by a holy tie.

Mrs. Alving. You know very well what sort of
life Alving was leading — what excesses he was
guilty of.



38 Ghosts. [Act I.

MANDERS. I know very well what rumours there
were about him, and I am the last to approve the life
he led in his young days, if report did not wrong him.
But a wife is not to be her husband's judge. It was
your duty to bear with humility the cross which a
Higher Power had, for your own good, laid upon you.
But instead of that you rebelliously throw away the
cross, desert the backslider whom you should have
supported, go and risk your good name and reputa-
tion, and — nearly succeed in ruining other people's
reputation into the bargain.

Mrs. Alving. Other people's ? One other per-
son's, you mean.

MANDERS. It was incredibly reckless of you to
seek refuge with me.

Mrs. Alving. With our clergyman ? With our
intimate friend ?

MANDERS. Just on that account. Yes, you may
thank God that I possessed the necessary firmness ;
that I dissuaded you from your wild designs; and that
it was vouchsafed me to lead you back to the path of
duty, and home to your lawful husband.

Mrs. Alving. Yes, Pastor Manders, it was
certainly your work.

MANDERS. I was but a poor instrument in a
Higher Hand. And what a blessing has it not been
to you, all the days of your life, that I got you to
resume the yoke of duty and obedience ! Did not
everything happen as I foretold ? Did not Alving
turn his back on his errors, as a man should ? Did
he not live with you from that time, lovingly and
blamelessly, all his days? Did he not become a



Act I.] Ghosts. 39

benefactor to the whole district ? And did he not
raise you up to him, so that you little by little became
his assistant in all his undertakings ? i\nd a capital
assistant, too — Oh ! I know, Mrs. Alving, that praise
is due to you. But now I come to the next great
error in your life.

Mrs. Alving. What do you mean ?

MANDERS. Just as you once disowned a wife's
duty, so you have since disowned a mother's.

Mrs. Alving. Ah!

MANDERS. You have been all your life under the
dominion of a pestilent spirit of self-will. All your
efforts have been bent towards emancipation and
lawlessness. You have never known how to endure
any bond. Everything that has weighed upon you in
life you have cast away without care or conscience,
like a burden you could throw off at will. It did not
please you to be a wife any longer, and you left your
husband. You found it troublesome to be a mother,
and you sent your child forth among strangers.

Mrs. Alving. Yes. That is true. I did so.

Manders. And thus you have become a stranger
to him.

Mrs. Alving. No ! no ! I am not.

Manders. Yes, you are ; you must be. And how
have you got him back again ? Bethink yourself well,
Mrs. Alving. You have sinned greatly against your
husband ; — that you recognise by raising yonder
memorial to him. Recognise now, also, how you
have sinned against your son. There may be time to
lead him back from the paths of error. Turn back
yourself, and save what may yet be saved in him.



40 Ghosts. [Act I.

For {with uplifted fore-finger) verily, Mrs. Alving,
you are a guilt-laden mother ! — This I have thought
it my duty to say to you. (Silence.)

Mrs. Alving {slowly and with self-control). You
have now spoken out, Pastor Manders ; and to-morrow
you are to speak publicly in memory of my husband.
I shall not speak to-morrow. But now I will speak
frankly to you, as you have spoken to me.

Manders. To be sure ; you will plead excuses
for your conduct

Mrs. Alving. No. I will only narrate.

Manders. Well ?

Mrs. Alving. All that you have just said about
me and my husband and our life after you had
brought me back to the path of duty — as you called
it — about all that you know nothing from personal
observation. From that moment you, who had been
our intimate friend, never set foot in our house
again.

Manders. You and your husband left the town
immediately after.

Mrs. Alving. Yes ; and in my husband's life-
time you never came to see us. It was business that
forced you to visit me when you undertook the affairs
of the Orphanage.

MANDERS {softly and uncertainly). Helen — if that
is meant as a reproach, I would beg you to bear in
mind

Mrs. Alving. the regard you owed to your

position, yes ; and that I was a runaway wife. One
can never be too careful with such unprincipled
creatures.



Act I.] Ghosts. 41

Manders. My dear — Mrs. Alving, you know that
is an absurd exaggeration

Mrs. Alving. Well well, suppose it is. My
point is that your judgment as to my married life
is founded upon nothing but current gossip.

Manders. Well, I admit that. What then ?

Mrs. Alving. Well, then, Mr. Manders — I will
tell you the truth. I have sworn to myself that one
day you should know it — you alone !

Manders. What is the truth, then ?

Mrs. Alving. The truth is that my husband
died just as dissolute as he had lived all his days.

Manders (feeling after a chair). What do you
say?

MRS. ALVING. After nineteen years of marriage,
as dissolute — in his desires at any rate — as he was
before you married us.

Manders. And those — those wild oats, those
irregularities, those excesses, if you like, you call " a
dissolute life " ?

Mrs. Alving. Our doctor used the expression.

Manders. I don't understand you.

Mrs. Alving. You need not.

Manders. It almost makes me dizzy. Your
whole married life, the seeming union of all these
years, was nothing more than a hidden abyss I

MRS. ALVING. Nothing more. Now you know
it.

MANDERS. This is — it will take me long to
accustom myself to the thought. I can't grasp it ! I

can't realise it ! But how was it possible to ?

How could such a state of things be kept dark ?



42 Ghosts. [Act I.

MRS. ALVING. That has been my ceaseless
struggle, day after day. After Oswald's birth, I
thought Alving seemed to be a little better. But it
didn't last long. And then I had to struggle twice
as hard, fighting for life or death, so that nobody
should know what sort of a man my child's father
was. And you know what power Alving had of
winning people's hearts. Nobody seemed able to
believe anything but good of him. He was one of
those people whose life does not bite upon their
reputation. But at last, Mr. Manders — for you must
know the whole story — the most repulsive thing of all
happened.

Manders. More repulsive than the rest ?

MRS. ALVING. I had gone on bearing with him,
although I knew very well the secrets of his life out
of doors. But when he brought the scandal within
our own walls

Manders. Impossible! Here!

Mrs. ALVING. Yes ; here in our own home. It
was there (^pointing towards the first door on the right),
in the dining-room, that I first got to know of it. I
was busy with something in there, and the door was
standing ajar. I heard our housemaid come up from
the garden, with water for those flowers.

Manders. Well ?

Mrs. ALVING. Soon after I heard Alving come
too. I heard him say something softly to her. And
then I heard — {with a short laugh) — oh ! it still sounds
in my ears, so hateful and yet so ludicrous — I heard
my own servant-maid whisper, " Let me go, Mr.
Alving ! Let me be."



Act I.] Ghosts. 43

MANDERS. What unseemly levity on his part!
But it cannot have been more than levity, Mis.
Alving ; believe me, it cannot

Mrs. Alving. I soon knew what to believe. Mr.
Alving had his way with the girl ; and that connec-
tion had consequences, Mr. Manders.

MANDERS (as though petrified). Such things in
this house ! in this house !

Mrs. Alving. I had borne a great deal in this
house. To keep him at home in the evenings — and
at night — I had to make myself his boon companion
in his secret orgies up in his room. There I have had
to sit alone with him, to clink glasses and drink with
him, and to listen to his ribald, silly talk. I have had
to fight with him to get him dragged to bed

Manders (moved). And you were able to bear
all that ?

Mrs. Alving. I had to bear it for my little boy's
sake. But when the last insult was added ; when my

own servant-maid Then I swore to myself:

This shall come to an end. And so I took the reins


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