Illusions and Realities in Ibsen’s Plays The Wild Duck and Ghosts

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Illusions and Realities in Ibsen’s Plays The Wild Duck and Ghosts In Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, illusions and reality are set into a conflict within the story of a son’s personal desire to confront idealism. Throughout much of the play, the son, Greger, argues the value of truth with the reluctant Dr. Relling. Relling insists on the importance of illusions, but fails to discourage Greger’s intentions and a play that begins as a comedy quickly turns into a tragedy because of these conflicts. At the heart of the illusions in this play are the ways that people assume many roles in a family, impersonating multiple ideals as ways for managing their relationships. This theme of impersonation is also developed in Ibsen’s Ghosts, where…show more content…
Within the ordinary lives of the families in Ghosts and The Wild Duck are tales of infidelity, corruption, greed, lust, disease, and other afflictions that characterize family secrets. For example, in Ghosts, the mother, Mrs. Alving, reveals the ways she has protected her son Oswald from the truths of her unhappy marriage. She tells her friend and priest, Manders, “…Yes, I was always swayed by duty and consideration for others; that was why I lied to my son, year in and year out. Oh, what a coward I have been” (315). Manders responds, “You have built up a happy illusion in your son’s mind, Mrs. Alving – and that is a thing you certainly ought not to undervalue,” (315) echoing Dr. Relling’s belief that illusions are sometimes more than a question of reality. In both plays, the deeper questions are about whose reality matters, and who may determine another person’s reality. Relling accuses Greger of having a plague of “…integrity-fever; and then -- what's worse -- you are always in a delirium of hero-worship; you must always have something to adore, outside yourself,” which Greger agrees to, without considering the consequences of this claim (297). In fact, Greger’s certainty about the dangers of illusions provokes the young Hedvig into an emotional despair, and she kills herself. The issues presented in this play are not about what is true, or false, but about the ways people build their lives on the past. Hedvig’s father, Hialmar,

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