Ghosts of the Past

Ibsen’s Ghosts deals heavily with the idea of personal agency and the impact of inherited traits. Last week, I finished watching the new Netflix documentary on the Burari deaths, a case that presents several of the same themes. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Back in 2018, 10 members from 3 generations of the Bhatia family were found hanging in a strange pattern from the roof of their house, and the grandmother, the oldest member of the house, was found nearby, strangled. As the police tried to uncover what had happened in the seemingly normal and happy family, they learned that the younger son, Lalit, believed that the ghost of his dead father, Bhopal Singh, had lodged himself within him and began writing diaries with instructions, apparently from Bhopal. Bhopal was a harsh man with very distinct mannerisms, so when Lalit began speaking and writing exactly like Bhopal, the family believed that Lalit truly was Bhopal incarnate and began following his instructions exactly. It was difficult for the police to comprehend that the younger members of the family, including a 15 year old and 25 year old, would willingly hang themselves simply because an older member of the household told them to, but the fact was that they fully believed it was Bhopal speaking to them, and Bhopal’s knowledge and power superseded everything. Bhopal’s impact was so strong, the family did not know how to live after he died, so when Lalit claimed that he had inherited his father’s ghost, the family felt as though some normalcy had returned to their lives. Ibsen’s interrogation of the idea of a child being a parent’s incarnate took place in 1881, but the concept still remains hauntingly relevant in 2021.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.