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In Ghosts, how can we analyze Mrs. Alving's character from  a feministic view?

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saaamiraaa67 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 7, 2012 at 6:23 PM via web

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In Ghosts, how can we analyze Mrs. Alving's character from  a feministic view?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 15, 2013 at 9:34 AM (Answer #1)

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In any piece of literature, a feminist view looks at how women are presented and the pattern of existing within expected social values, imposed by a male-dominated society. Women rarely think for themselves and form opinions, achieve academically or create an environment outside supposed traditional views.  

In Ghosts, Henrik Ibsen does what he did before and attempts to expose limitations that society places on women, and, in fact , men and also the personal limitations and self-imposed restrictions of individuals as they try to conform to society, often with their own selfish motives. Ibsen's intention is for individuals to recognize characteristics in themselves, on a personal level and not some universal level or feminist view which centers only on the women in his plays.

Both Mrs Alving and Regina are representative of fairly "typical" women of Ibsen's era. In an attempt to meet the expectations and maintain their standing within polite society and for Regina, to attain a standing above her current station as a housemaid, they are both prepared to make personal sacrifices but not necessarily for the greater good.

The struggle of women is very present in Ghosts, not the least within Mrs Alving. The shocking revelation that she may have contributed to her late husband's despicable behavior together with her remorse at not having told her son of his father's indiscretions sooner, leads the reader to see her internal battle. She is hard on herself, even suggesting that she is a coward - something the pastor could self-reflect on, although he is far too obtuse to recognize that trait in himself. 

Mrs Alving is portrayed one-dimensionally at first but her development and ultimate self-assessment gives her a depth that is lacking in all the other characters. Therefore, we can appreciate a feminist view of Mrs Alving who may have left it too late to make any real difference. She feels guilt at her son's illness - something he has no problem taking advantage of and the best she can do for him now is to provide him with "sun. The sun."

  

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