Ghosts

Jacob Engstrand Character Analysis

Jacob Engstrand is the carpenter Mrs. Alving hires to build an orphanage commemorating her late husband, Captain Alving. Engstrand’s daughter, Regine, also works for the Alvings as a maid, and though Engstrand wants her to come home with him after he finishes the orphanage, she refuses because she thinks that staying with the Alvings will give her a better chance at upward mobility. An alcoholic who always has a new scheme to get rich, Engstrand tells Regine that he has a plan to build a hotel in town that will serve sailors while they’re ashore. It’s clear that this establishment would function like a brothel, though he tries to appeal to Regine’s desire to become a well-respected woman by making the hotel sound like a classy place. Later, it emerges that Engstrand isn’t Regine’s real father. In fact, Captain Alving impregnated Regine’s mother, Johanna, but then gave her a large sum of money to keep quiet about the entire ordeal. Consequently, Johanna offered this money to Engstrand, who agreed to marry her and pretend to be Regine’s father. In keeping with this obsession with money, Engstrand eventually tricks Pastor Manders into funding his hotel. He does this by blaming Pastor Manders for burning down the orphanage, something for which Engstrand himself is most likely responsible. Nevertheless, Engstrand manages to manipulate Manders by claiming that he saw the pastor toss a recently snuffed candle into a pile of wood shavings. He then talks about how this accident will ruin the pastor’s reputation, knowing that Manders cares about his public image more than anything. In this way, Engstrand gets Manders to fund his hotel and decides to call it the Captain Alving Home.

Jacob Engstrand Quotes in Ghosts

The Ghosts quotes below are all either spoken by Jacob Engstrand or refer to Jacob Engstrand. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Ghosts published in 2008.
Act One Quotes

REGINE [after a short silence]. And what did you want with me in town?

ENGSTRAND. How can you ask what a father wants with his only child? I’m a lonely, deserted widower, aren’t I?

REGINE. Oh, don’t come that fiddle-faddle with me. What do you want me there for?

ENGSTRAND. Well, the thing is I’ve been thinking of going in for something new.

REGINE [sneers]. How many times haven’t I heard that one before! But you always made a mess of it.

Related Characters: Jacob Engstrand (speaker), Regine (speaker), Mrs. Helene Alving
Related Symbols: Engstrand’s Hotel
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
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There has to be some women about the place, that’s clear. Because we’d want a bit of fun in the evenings, singing and dancing and that sort of thing. These are seafaring men, you’ve got to remember, roaming the high seas. [Comes closer.] Now don’t be such a fool as to stand in your own way, Regine. What can you do with yourself out here? Is it going to be any use to you, all this education the lady’s lavished on you? You’ll be looking after the children in the new Orphanage, they tell me. What sort of thing is that for a girl like you, eh? Are you all that keen on working yourself to death for the sake of a lot of dirty little brats?

Related Characters: Jacob Engstrand (speaker), Mrs. Helene Alving, Regine
Related Symbols: Engstrand’s Hotel
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Act Three Quotes

ENGSTRAND. Fancy a thing like that happening to a charitable institution, something that was going to be such a boon to the whole district, as you might say. I don’t suppose the papers are going to let you off very lightly, Pastor.

MANDERS. No, that’s just what I’m thinking. That’s just about the worst part of the whole affair. All these spiteful accusations and insinuations. . . ! Oh, it’s terrible to think about!

Related Characters: Pastor Manders (speaker), Jacob Engstrand (speaker)
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jacob Engstrand Character Timeline in Ghosts

The timeline below shows where the character Jacob Engstrand appears in Ghosts. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...goes about her duties one morning as a maid in Mrs. Helene Alving’s home, her father, Jacob Engstrand, comes in from the rain to speak with her. Upon seeing him, she... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Regine tries again to send her father away, but he refuses to leave, insisting that he deserves to speak to his own... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Engstrand notes that Pastor Manders will be coming from town to oversee the orphanage’s opening, and... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Engstrand calls Regine a “little bitch” and scolds her for disrespecting her own father. In response,... (full context)
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Regine asks Engstrand why he wants her to come back to town, and he says, “How can you... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Engstrand insists that he has saved money to open a hotel for sailors, claiming that it... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Engstrand tries to convince Regine to come with him by saying that she’s gaining nothing from... (full context)
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Seeing Pastor Manders approaching the house, Regine sends Engstrand away. As he goes, Engstrand tells her to ask Manders about what children owe to... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Before Regine goes to get Mrs. Alving, Pastor Manders talks to her about Engstrand, saying that he’s the kind of person who needs guidance. All the same, Manders believes... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
...that it was quickly resolved, saying that a pile of wood shavings caught fire in Engstrand’s workshop. (full context)
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Pastor Manders tells Mrs. Alving that Engstrand wants Regine to come live with him, but she refuses to let the young woman... (full context)
Act Two
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...his half-sister. However, neither she nor Manders can think of where to send her, since Engstrand isn’t really her father. Mrs. Alving explains that Johanna left after learning she was pregnant,... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Pastor Manders is furious to hear that Engstrand has lied to him for so many years about Regine. He finds it detestable that... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...and Pastor Manders begin to talk once more about what they should do with Regine, Engstrand enters and asks Manders to come bless the orphanage, which has just been completed. However,... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Engstrand emphasizes the fact that he was only trying to help a woman in need when... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Still trying to defend himself, Engstrand tells Pastor Manders that he never spent any of the money that Johanna received to... (full context)
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
After Pastor Manders and Engstrand go to the orphanage, Mrs. Alving finds Oswald drinking and smoking a cigar. Frowning at... (full context)
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...says that he has successfully blessed the building. He also says that he will help Engstrand with his hotel, adding that Regine should move in with her father to help with... (full context)
Act Three
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...Shortly after Mrs. Alving ventures into the garden, Pastor Manders enters the house, followed by Engstrand, who complains about what happened. As he laments the terrible disaster, he implies that Manders... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...suggested—and, in fact, insisted—that Manders was the one to start the fire at the orphanage, Engstrand pontificates about how bad this will look for the pastor. He mentions that the newspapers... (full context)
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Overhearing Pastor Manders’s plan to put money toward something that would benefit the community, Engstrand asks the pastor to consider helping him start his hotel for sailors. At first, Manders... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Engstrand tells Regine to come with him to work in the hotel for sailors, but Regine... (full context)
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
When Engstrand and Pastor Manders leave, Oswald enters and suggests that the Captain Alving Home will inevitably... (full context)