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Riccardo Gramantieri

Archetypal Elements in Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts

Ghosts is one of Henrik Ibsen’s best-known dramas. The reason can also be found in the central theme of the play that caused a scandal to its appearance: the luetic disease transmitted from father to son. Ibsen does not explicitly declare the pathological component but that critics have identified as hereditary neurosyphilis. Some critics such as Derek R. Davis in the Sixties and Russel E. Brown in the Nineties, proposed a pathology other than the luetic one. Starting from the symptoms described by Ibsen, they proposed that Osvald was suffering from schizophrenia. It is difficult to expect a literary character to behave exactly like a person. It often represents for the author a symbol or an idea to be developed. Therefore, it is not possible to subject a fictitious character to a psycho-pathological analysis as if he were a real person. However, it is possible to use him as a model and offer a different interpretation of the literary work in which he moves. That being said, the purpose of this work is to provide further support to the schizophrenic theory of Osvald’s illness proposed by Davis and Brown, using Jung’s archetypal theory. A psychological interpretation can be provided here of what happens on stage to the characters in Ghosts and highlight the psychological symbol of the emerging Self. 


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