January 2014


Power and Sexuality in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts
Md. Amir Hossain, Amir
1. Introduction
Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts continues to remain one of the most criticized
plays. The main motto of the modern playwright is to uphold the sexual
issues of his contemporary age. In the play, Ghosts Henrik Ibsen, with his
subtle knowledge and intelligence, has focused on the universal gender
discrimination through depicting the dramatic male and female characters
based on the 19th century Norwegian Bourgeois customs and values, and the
contradictory attitude towards power and sexuality. The playwright as a selfconscious critic cum social reformer of his contemporary age, has unveiled
the grim and mysterious images of the then filthy atmosphere. The play
embodies of the hollowness and falsity of conventional morality, particularly
the hollowness of conventional Bourgeois marriage and family life. His only
motto is to deal with the contemporary social issues – the role of religion in
modern life, the hypocrisies of family life, the subordinate and subservient
status of women and corruption in the familial, social, cultural, and
communal affairs are considered unorthodox of his own time. The main
antagonists who are faced with conventions, hypocrisy, sexual passion,
power, marriages of expedience, corrupt press, vested interest, and hardest
of all, the past, both of society or of oneself may involve guilt and hamper
autonomy. In the play, Ghosts, Ibsen has dealt with the Scandinavian
middle class familial contradictory dilemma and pang of inner agonies
between the patriarchy and the matriarchy. The modern playwright has
demonstrated the spiritual and moral challenges of the society as it became
increasingly urban and modern, and the influence of Christianity began to
wane. Ibsen laid a great stress upon the norms of hereditary guilt based on
power and sexuality. He studied the disordered human psychology and
analyzed relentlessly the common relationship...