Untraditional Families in Ibsen’s "Ghosts" and Strindberg’s "The Father"
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With both author’s realistic description and depiction of two dysfunctional families, Ibsen and Strindberg really both push the envelope on how realistic they may seem. They are not afraid to portray families how the truly are, many times ugly and unseemly. In Ghosts everyone’s roles as mom, dad, son, and daughter is abandoned and narrate to each other as normal human beings, but especially those of mothers. In Strindberg’s The father there is no denying that the conception of a feminist household exist. Laura is clearly in look for power, but her exclusion from the self-given power of the Captain drives her to use her daughter for maternal rule.
In addition, Ghosts paints a brilliant picture in helping convey the state that this family is in. We should really begin in talking about the plague, the man compared to the devil, Engstrand. As we read the play we come to understand that Engstrand is not the legitimate father of Regina, and there seems to be evidence that she knows it, too. The notion of family is one of the social crutches that Engstrand tries to manipulate to his own ways (he does the same with religion). “What the devil do you mean? Do you set yourself up against your father, you hussy? (I.12) Engstrand clearly seems paranoid in his tone of voice and internally knows the truth about Regina’s situation. There is one idea that is part of the “ghosts” that Mrs. Alving speaks of:
MRS.ALVING. Ah, but here he has his mother, you see. My own darling boy-he hasn’t forgotten his old mother!
MANDERS. It would be grievous indeed, if absence and absorption in art that sort of things were to blunt his natural feelings (I.24)
This theory of filial respect is one of the “ghosts” Helene clings to until the very last dramati...
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...art f all evil in society, a place where woman can be sensual man can to anchors and a prison for children (60). As we have exhausted, these families are unfamiliar but yet real. Their mothers play a vital role in the present and future of both plays. Both plays support this theme of families and their dysfunctional way of being and their unparallel patterns oppose to those of the normal, traditional standards.
Carlson, Harry G. Introduction. Strindberg: Five Plays. Trans. Carlson. Berkeley: U of Cal P, 1983.
Ibsen, Henrik. Ghosts in Ibsen: Four Major Plays: Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Lady from
the Sea, and John Gabriel Borkman, Vol. 2. Trans. Rolf Fjelde. New York: Penguin, 2001. 1-81. Print.
Strindberg, August. The Father in Strindberg: Five Plays. Trans. Harry G. Carlson. Berkeley: U of
Cal P, 1983. 19-62. Print.