Passive and Active Ghosts

Henrik Iben’s play, Ghosts, alludes to the inevitable inheritance of family mistakes, social expectations, amongst other things that live as sort of passive ghosts within each of us. Building on our discussion from class, I immediately thought back to a show I had watched called Big Little Lies (spoiler alert below), in which a single mother’s son is accused of hitting a little girl, and the single mother believes that her son may have inherited violence towards girls from his violent father. It later turns out that it’s the little boys half-brother who inherited those traits from his abusive father and was bullying the girl.

A short scene of Ziggy pointing of his half-brother as the one hurting the little girl.

Ibsen’s play alongside Big Little Lies, made me think of how ghosts manifest within us. Mrs. Alving claims the ghosts are just “lodged” within us, passive in a sense. While the show implies that such ghosts are active. Nonetheless, the ghosts are a sort of disease, there are the asymptotic carriers and the symptomatic ones. Big Little Lies has a plethora of characters that are symptomatic and suffer because of past family mistakes, social expectations, and patriarchal indoctrination amongst other things. The show brilliantly ties together how parental mistakes live on through children in both subtle and clear ways. While the characters of the show run parallel to the characters of Ghosts in terms of how they deal with inherited issues, the corruption, irony, and morality ( or lack thereof) coincide brilliantly.

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