Bound in the past, loom of the future

Ibsen’s Ghosts is a dramatic play that centers around the theme of family and inheritance. There are also other themes such as the role of women, power, and hierarchy that are present throughout the play, and all these themes are presented to the audience through the drama of the Alving family and their interactions with each other. In this play, most characters have a profound role that emphasizes their existence and their decisions are impactful that pushes the events of the play forward. Mrs Alving and Oswald have a somewhat complicated relationship – there is love, fear, protection, possession, tenderness, and confession. Mrs Alving goes through a long journey and makes decisions to protect her son and save him from inheriting anything from his father. Inheritance in this play involves what can be tangibly inherited such as a house, furniture, clothes, and money. The other type and most critical in this play is the intangible inheritance such as inheriting characteristics, personality traits, ideas, and tradition. In this review article, Hossain talks about the Hereditary Genetics and explores it through Ibsen’s play. He says “hereditary character of any kind is not an entity or unit which is handed down from generation to generation, but is rather a method of reaction of the organism to the constellation of external environmental factors under which the organism lives”. Looking at this definition through the lens of the play, Mrs Alving sent Oswald away early in age so he does not inherit or take upon the ideology that circulated their house. At the same time, while Oswald was away in another different environment, he was exposed to a lifestyle and adopted ideas that might not necessarily be accepted or appropriate at his original home. The environmental factors here are mixed up with Oswald, so where exactly does he lie within that spectrum? It is interesting, the fact that “most conventional genetic studies of human behavior are biased in which they include cultural transmission in the estimation of heritability, treating the situation as though cultural differences were genetic in origin”. This drives us to think about what exactly is going on in Oswald’s mind and where does the equilibrium between his foreign ideas and what he inherits lie?

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