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Written in 1881, when melodrama and farce were still at their peak of popularity, Ibsen’s Ghosts is a three-act tragedy that explores uncomfortable, even forbidden themes. It is also a highly critical commentary on the morality of the day. The play centers around the widow of a prominent Norwegian sea captain whose son returns home and, with tragic consequences, revives the ghosts of the past that she has long labored to put to rest.
Ghosts immediately became a source of controversy for its inclusion of topics like venereal disease, incest, and euthanasia, and it was banned from being performed in England for many years. Its arrival signals a shift in the nature of theatre and, despite negative criticism, it was translated into other languages and performed in Sweden, Germany, and New York within a few years of its debut. It stands now as one of the works considered to have ushered in the era of modern drama.
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