1 PERMEATING EFFECTS OF RELIGION.
common. But when performing a deeper study of the plays, one will find at least
understanding of the role of God, and this is reflected in the direct
between God and the society presented to the reader in “Ghosts”. Still, both
societies follow the rules and norms, set by their religion.
An important similarity which is worth mentioning, is that both plays cover only
short time we are only introduced to a few characters, as to create a close
relationship between the characters and the reader, giving them life and depth.
In “Oedipus the King” one meets a society which believes in direct
communications with the gods. Each god was worshipped for their special ability
communicated to their gods through oracles. The oracles were highly pious
people who were thought to have a close tie to the gods, and received
oracle most often mentioned is the oracle of Delphi, which is one of the best
know to the modern world.
During the action of the play, when Oedipus realises what he has done, he begs
and then stabs out his own eyes as means of punishment towards himself. In an
indirect way he blames the gods for what has happened, but also to lead him
through this horror he now has to live with. This may be seen by the following
line spoken by Oedipus;
” Apollo. Apollo. It was Apollo, always Apollo, who brought each of my
them above my head, and plunged them down, I stabbed out these eyes. [.....]“1
Oedipus is not being judged by the other characters, but supported, as this
what he has done is against the norms of his society, but Oedipus’s’ religion
allows faults to be committed and leaves it to the sinner to decide the
harshness of his punishment.
In “Ghosts”, the whole society is of a different structure. The members of
of the ancient Greek world, but reach their God through a divine person. In this
way, the society presented in “Ghosts” is further away from their wholly sprite,
but closer to their priest.
This gave the priest enormous powers as he was a “pathway to heaven” for his
congregation. This may be seen in Pastor Manders obsessions of how he is
perceived by the people who entrust in him. This shines through during the
discussion with Mrs. Alving if the orphanage should be insured or not;
denominations. People might very easily come to the conclusion that neither you
nor I have sufficient trust in the ordinance of Higher Power”2.
The orphanage is to be raised in Captain Alvings memorial, but it’s his own
reputation Pastor Manders is concerned with. Mrs. Alvings’ name is just
mentioned to obscure his obvious reason for saying this. This shows how the
church was used for personal achievements, and not only to reach divine
The common peoples conduct, is also an important mirror in how the religion
permeates the society in this drama. Mrs. Alving has been living on her own, in
the country side, and not been bonded by societies norms and regulations the few
last years. She has become a free thinker, and freely reads books that are not
this time when he expresses;
“[.....] Remember the duty you owe to this orphanage which you decided to found
at a time when your attitude towards spiritual matters was quite different from
what it is now – as far as I can judge”3
to, it is not the role of God to judge others, but the priest and the other
members of society.
From this one may deduct that religion has always been a shaper of
society. It’s rules and norms are followed by the people, and it has enormous
power if used to its full extent. It has also been the founder of great
tragedies (personal and collective), but just as often been a solid pillar for
people to depend on when times were hard. Religion has always been present, and
will always be an important part of life, even if its forms one meets will vary
guidelines I believe would be one of a weaker sense, with much internal fighting
WORKS USED AS REFERENCE:
1: Henrik Ibsen “Ghosts”
Methuen Student Editions of 1985.
2: Sophocles “Oedipus the King”
1 Page 85, lines 1730 to 1738