1. Literature may be read as a social and/or cultural documents. Explore the ways in which your understanding of social and/or cultural history informed your readings of Ibsen's Ghosts.
Ibsen's drama, titled “Ghosts” can be seen as a 'window' into the world of late 19th century Norway. Ibsen does not depict a fantasised or 'romanticised' version of society, which was very common at the time, but instead shows a very realistic, and haunting portrayal of a family struggling to survive. In fact, it was this realism, and it's portrayal of the many 'unspoken' problems facing society at the time, that shocked so many audiences upon its opening. Thus, Ibsen's depiction of a family, no more special than any other, can be seen as a social and/or cultural document.
As such, to fully realise, and truly understand the story, it is important to know the context behind “Ghosts”. It is a prime example of a realistic text, and one of the most important plays in what was to become known as the extremely influential 'realist' movement.
Ibsen lived away from Norway from 1863 to 1891. Rather than distancing him from the character of the Norwegian people, though, critics note that this separation helped him understand his native land better. Throughout the 1800s, Norway was a land of peaceful self-assurance, left alone to rule itself while still formally under the control of Sweden. This period of independence was a result of the Napoleonic Wars, which changed the organisation of Scandinavia as much as they changed almost all of Europe’s political structure. Norway had been a province of Denmark for several centuries, from 1381 to 1814, but was taken from Norway, which supported Napoleon, and given over to Swedish rule because Sweden had supported the Russians, who eventually defeated the French. Sweden allowed Norway a great deal of independence. The Norwegian constitution, drafted in 1815, gave more political power to the Norwegian king’s council than to ministers from Sweden,...