Pastor Manders | Character Analysis in Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

Pastor Manders | Character Analysis in Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

Character of Pastor Manders

Pastor Manders is a priest from the neighbouring town. He lectures others about religion and morality. He accepts all verbal expressions of social principles. This can be seen when he says, “It is not a wife’s part to be her husband’s judge”. But it is also clearly evident that he is not able to deal with circumstances where doctrine doesn’t apply. For example, when he says, “A child should love and respect his father and mother” Mrs Alving replies, “Suppose we say ought Oswald to love and honour Mrs. Alving? This is a struggle between principles and reality. Pastor Manders has no response to her statement.

Pastor Manders believes that Mrs. Alving should not have abandoned her husband and should not have sent Oswald into the world at such an early age. He is easily stunned when Mrs. Alving comes out with the truth about her husband, Manders is hypocritical and has a conceitful personality. When he comes to know of Johanna’s marriage to Engstrand, he reacts by saying that he was fooled. He accuses Engstrand of telling him lies and wants to be from him whether he could justify himself and condemns him for his we conduct.

Engstrand who is a glib justifies himself in marrying Johanna and spending the money he received from Mrs. Alving in supporting a fallen woman. Pastor Manders is easily satisfied with this justification. He, in fact wishes to beg his pardon for misunderstanding him. He further agrees to help Engstrand set up a sailor’s home (a brothel). He approves of Engstrand’s plan completely. His clergy status accords him strength and thus becomes the most destructive element. He has no intellect. He tries to maintain social standards with his verbal eloquence at the cost of individual integrity.

Another instance which shows his hypocritical persona is when he convinces Mrs. Alving to return to her husband, when she comes to seek refuge in him. He praises his own firm character for that.

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When Mrs. Alving feels herself that it was wrong of her to suppress the truth, Manders- the defender of Victorian values–has no scruples in sanctioning her actions. He says:

“Don’t you feel your mother’s heart prompting you not to shatter you son’s ideals ?” Further, Manders tries to pacify her with his words: “you have built up a beautiful illusion in your son’s mind, Mrs. Alving…and really, that’s something you shouldn’t underestimate.” He does not realize that lies and illusion form a dubious foundation for living.

Pastor Manders appears to be a double-faced personality when he states to Mrs. Alving.

“All you efforts have been bent towards emancipation and lawlessness. You have never known how to endure any bond. Everything that has weighed upon you in life you have cast away without care or conscience, like a burden you could throw off at will. It did not please you to be a wife any longer, and you left your husband. You found troublesome to be a mother, and you sent your child forth among strangers”.

In short, we can say that Pastor Manders is a wrong person in the right place. Sometimes, his financial dealings regarding the orphanage also seem suspect. He is the mouth-piece of the society and reflects all its evils. He is in fact, a hypocrite who conceals his double faced personality

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