Reference > The Library > Helen Rex Keller > Reader’s Digest of Books

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
H. R. Keller.  The Reader’s Digest of Books.
Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906)
Ghosts, a powerful play by Henrik Ibsen (1881), gives dramatic embodiment to the modern realization of heredity. Ibsen, treating this subject on its tragic side, considers the case of the darker passions as they are handed down from father to son. The fatalistic atmosphere of ‘Ghosts’ resembles that of a Greek drama. It is a Greek tragedy translated into the littleness and barrenness of modern life.  1
  Oswald Alving, the son of a dissipated, worthless father, has been brought up by his mother in ignorance of his dead parent’s shame. Yet he has within him the seeds of a transmitted disease,—the evil sown by a previous generation. He has gone into the world to make a name for himself, but he is forced to return to his mother’s home. He drinks to excess, and he exhibits tendencies to other more dangerous vices. His wretched mother sees in him the ghost of his father; she sees the old hateful life clothed in the form of the boy she has reared so carefully. He himself feels the poison working in his veins. The play closes upon the first sign of his incipient madness. In this drama, the mother, Mrs. Alving, is the type of the new woman in revolt against the hideous lies of society, because she has suffered through them. She is learning to think for herself; to weigh social morality in the balances. Her adviser, Pastor Manders, has been called “the consummate flower of conventional morality.” He is a type of the world’s cautiousness and policy in matters ethical; of that world’s disposition to cover up or refuse to see the sins of society. He is of those who make of marriage a talisman to juggle away vice.  2
  ‘Ghosts’ is perhaps the most remarkable of Ibsen’s dramas in its searching judgment, its recognition of terrible fact, its logical following of the merciless logic of nature.  3

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