Throughout Henrik Ibsen’s play Ghosts, the truth is obscured in one way or
another. Creating endless drama and disappointment, the lies told in order to cover the truth are, in reality, a lesson to be learned for many. Through the course of the play, hiding the truth results in disaster. This theme is exposed through a variety of interactions between numerous characters. Regina’s anger is sparked by Mrs. Alving’s disclosure of Regina’s father. In addition, Oswald is frustrated toward his mother for hiding the facts about his father. Not only does the newly revealed truth dismay Regina and Oswald, but furthermore, it severs the lifelong relationship they share with themselves and Mrs. Alving.
Proud of her duty as Mrs. Alving’s maid, Regina is completely devastated by Mrs. Alving’s confession of Regina’s biological father, Captain Alving. The captain and Johanna have an affair, leading to the birth of Regina. This makes Regina and Oswald half brother and sister. When Mrs. Alving informs her of this vital information, Regina erupts asking why she is informed of this so late in her life. In the argument,
Mrs. Alving: Regina, I haven’t been open with you.
Regina:No, I can’t say you have! If I had known Oswald was ill and now that there can never be anything serious between us-. No, I really can’t stay here in the country and wear myself out looking after invalids. (Ibsen III 122)
Regina’s fury is truly evident when she says she is only, “looking after invalids,” and angrily leaves. If she was aware of the truth, she would not have stayed in the Alving household, for she would have come upon better opportunities. Therefore, such an incestuous relationship would not have begun nor would she have ended a life long relationship with Mrs. Alving. As seen in Regina’s case, concealing the truthresults in disaster.
Oswald is distressed to hear the truth about his father. Mrs. Alving has hidden the truth behind Captain Alving so that Oswald does not look down on him for his numerous occasions of being drunk or trying to fulfill his “joy of life”(Ibsen III 121). When Oswald became old enough to understand the situation, he was sent away. These are two of the extensive measures Mrs. Alving took in order to conceal.