Ghosts

Johanna Character Analysis

Johanna never actually appears onstage in Ghosts. However, she was the Alvings’ maid when Captain Alving was still alive. Mrs. Alving tells Pastor Manders that she discovered many years ago that Captain Alving impregnated Johanna. She also reveals that Johanna is Regine’s mother, and that Captain Alving gave her a large amount of money to keep this a secret. With this money, Johanna went to Engstrand and convinced him to marry her and pretend to be Regine’s true father.

Johanna Quotes in Ghosts

The Ghosts quotes below are all either spoken by Johanna or refer to Johanna. 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

MRS. ALVING. Shortly afterwards I heard my husband come in, too. I heard him say something to her in a low voice. And then I heard. . . . [With a short laugh.] Oh, I can still hear it, so devastating and yet at the time so ludicrous…I heard my own maid whisper: ‘Let me go, Mr. Alving! Leave me alone!’

MANDERS. How unseemly! How indiscreet of him!

Related Characters: Mrs. Helene Alving (speaker), Pastor Manders (speaker), Regine, Captain Alving, Johanna
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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That was the time Oswald was sent away. He was getting on for seven, and beginning to notice things and ask questions, as children do. That was something I couldn’t bear. I felt the child would somehow be poisoned simply by breathing the foul air of this polluted house. That was why I sent him away. And now you understand why he was never allowed to set foot in this place as long as his father was alive. Nobody knows what that cost me.

Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act Two Quotes

Ghosts. When I heard Regine and Oswald in there, it was just like seeing ghosts. But then I’m inclined to think that we are all ghosts, Pastor Manders, every one of us. It’s not just what we inherit from our mothers and fathers that haunts us. It’s all kinds of old defunct theories, all sorts of old defunct beliefs, and things like that. It’s not that they actually live on in us; they are simply lodged there, and we cannot get rid of them. I’ve only to pick up a newspaper and I seem to see ghosts gliding between the lines. Over the whole country there must be ghosts, as numerous as the sands of the sea.

Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
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Johanna Character Timeline in Ghosts

The timeline below shows where the character Johanna appears in Ghosts. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One
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
...he may have used careless language when he was drunk. Continuing, he complains about Regine’s mother, saying that she used to constantly bother him. He claims that she was snobby and... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
...that one day she heard Captain Alving make a sexually inappropriate advance on their maid, Johanna. Mrs. Alving was in the next room, and she heard Johanna say, “Let me go,... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...to put up with Captain Alving’s misbehavior for Oswald’s sake. However, when her husband impregnated Johanna, Mrs. Alving finally decided to do something. It was at this point that she sent... (full context)
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...past, and Pastor Manders realizes that Regine is the child that Captain Alving had with Johanna. Before he can say anything else, Mrs. Alving takes his arm and pulls him to... (full context)
Act Two
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...of where to send her, since Engstrand isn’t really her father. Mrs. Alving explains that Johanna left after learning she was pregnant, though Captain Alving gave her a large sum of... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...pastor to admit that a man should never go against his word. Since he promised Johanna that he’d never say anything, he couldn’t possibly have told Manders the truth about Regine. (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...he was only trying to help a woman in need when he agreed to keep Johanna’s secret about Regine. As he tries to convince Pastor Manders that he did the right... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...defend himself, Engstrand tells Pastor Manders that he never spent any of the money that Johanna received to keep quiet about her pregnancy. Instead, he claims, he put the savings toward... (full context)