The main conflict of this play stems from the fact that Mrs. Alving feels remorse for her part in helping to deceive the world about what sort of man Captain Alving was. She feels that she should have told the truth to Oswald long ago. If she had been honest with him all along, the disease that he inherited from his father may still have been unavoidable, but she could have saved him the confusion that he felt upon finding out that his father, who he thought was morally pure, had syphilis. His own character might have been less cynical if the truth about his father had not come as such a shock.
For his part, Pastor Manders supports the idea of deception. When Mrs. Alving talks about truth, he counters her with talk about ideals. He tells her that, regardless of what the true facts are, Oswald needs to have ideals, that she should not sour his image of his father if that is something that Oswald thinks he can believe in.
In the end, the pastor’s belief in deception turns against him. Because his own ideal is that Engstrand is basically a decent, if weak, person, he is more willing to believe what Engstrand says about the fire at the orphanage than what he himself remembers. Pastor Manders falls for a simple deception almost willingly because his grasp on truth is so completely flexible.
In Ghosts, the only true loyalty is between Mrs. Alving and her son. All other instances of...
(The entire section is 1217 words.)
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