Ghosts

Pastor Manders Character Analysis

Pastor Manders is a deeply principled and judgmental man of God who has agreed to manage the financial aspects of the orphanage that Mrs. Alving is opening to honor her late husband, Captain Alving. Believing that wives have a duty to respect and support their husbands, Pastor Manders told Mrs. Alving to return to Captain Alving when she ran away from him many years ago. He knew that Captain Alving was at that time leading an immoral life, but he insisted that Mrs. Alving should return home nonetheless. This decision also had to do with his fear that people might pick up on the romantic feelings running between him and Mrs. Alving, which could have ruined his reputation as a pastor. Now, on the eve of the orphanage’s grand opening, Mrs. Alving tells Manders that her husband never changed his wretched ways, despite the fact that he eventually gained a good reputation in society. Pastor Manders also learns that Captain Alving impregnated the Alvings’ maid, Johanna, who gave birth to Regine, the young woman who currently works for the Alvings. This troubles Manders, partially because he realizes that Engstrand—whom he has always liked—lied to him when he claimed to be Regine’s father. When he brings this up with Engstrand, though, Engstrand convinces him not to be angry with him, proving his ability to manipulate Manders’s emotions. This dynamic comes up again later in the play, when Engstrand (presumably) sets fire to the orphanage and blames it on Manders, claiming that the pastor threw a candle into a pile of wood shavings. Afraid that his reputation will be ruined, Manders agrees to give Engstrand money to start a hotel for sailors in exchange for Engstrand taking responsibility for the fire, but Manders fails to realize that this hotel will be little more than a glorified brothel.

Pastor Manders Quotes in Ghosts

The Ghosts quotes below are all either spoken by Pastor Manders or refer to Pastor Manders. 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. Well, I find it seems to explain and confirm a lot of the things I had been thinking myself. That’s the strange thing. Pastor Manders…there’s really nothing new in these books; there’s nothing there but what most people think and believe already. It’s just that most people either haven’t really considered these things, or won’t admit them.

MANDERS. Good God! Do you seriously believe that most people . . . ?

MRS. ALVING. Yes, I do.

[…]

MRS. ALVING. Anyway, what is it in fact you’ve got against these books?

MANDERS. Got against them? You don’t think I waste my time examining publications of that kind, surely?

MRS. ALVING. Which means you know absolutely nothing about what you are condemning?

Related Characters: Mrs. Helene Alving (speaker), Pastor Manders (speaker)
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:
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MANDERS. […] It would be so terribly easy to interpret things as meaning that neither you nor I had a proper faith in Divine Providence.

MRS. ALVING. But as far as you are concerned, my dear Pastor, you know perfectly well yourself. . . .

MANDERS. Yes, I know, I know . . . my conscience is clear, that’s true enough. But all the same, we might not be able to stop people from seriously misrepresenting us. And that in turn might well have an inhibiting effect on the activities of the Orphanage.

Related Characters: Mrs. Helene Alving (speaker), Pastor Manders (speaker)
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
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OSWALD. […] never have I heard one word that could give offence, let alone seen anything that could be called immoral. No, do you know where and when I have encountered immorality in artistic circles?

MANDERS. No, thank God!

OSWALD. Well then, permit me to tell you. When some of our model husbands and fathers took themselves a trip to Paris to have a look round on the loose…and condescended to drop in on the artists in their modest haunts, that’s when I’ve met it. Then we got to know what was what. These gentlemen were able to tell us about places and things we’d never dreamt of.

Related Characters: Oswald Alving (speaker), Pastor Manders (speaker), Mrs. Helene Alving
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

I know quite well the rumours that were going about. And I would be the last person to condone his conduct as a young man, assuming these rumours told the truth. But it is not a wife’s place to sit in judgement on her husband. Your duty should have been to bear with humility that cross which a higher power had judged proper for you. But instead you have the effrontery to cast away the cross, you abandon the man whose stumbling steps you should have guided, you go and risk your own good name, and . . . very nearly jeopardize other people’s reputations into the bargain.

Related Characters: Pastor Manders (speaker), Mrs. Helene Alving, Captain Alving
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
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That was the endless battle I fought, day after day. When we had Oswald, I rather thought Alving improved a little. But it didn’t last long. And then I had to battle twice as hard, fight tooth and nail to prevent anybody from knowing what sort of person my child’s father was. And you know, of course, how charming Alving could be. Nobody could believe anything but good of him. He was one of those people whose reputation is proof against anything they may do.

Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:
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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:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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

MANDERS. Nobody can be held responsible for the way things have turned out. But nevertheless one thing is clear: your marriage was arranged in strict accord with law and order.

MRS. ALVING. Oh, all this law and order! I often think that’s the cause of all the trouble in the world.

Related Characters: Mrs. Helene Alving (speaker), Pastor Manders (speaker), Captain Alving
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

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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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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MRS. ALVING. What a terrible thought! Surely a child ought to love its father in spite of all?

OSWALD. What if a child has nothing to thank its father for? Never knew him? You don’t really believe in this old superstition still, do you? And you so enlightened in other ways?

MRS. ALVING. You call that mere superstition. . . !

OSWALD. Yes, surely you realize that, Mother. It’s simply one of those ideas that get around and . . .

MRS. ALVING [shaken]. Ghosts!

Related Characters: Mrs. Helene Alving (speaker), Oswald Alving (speaker), Pastor Manders, Captain Alving
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Pastor Manders Character Timeline in Ghosts

The timeline below shows where the character Pastor Manders 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
Engstrand notes that Pastor Manders will be coming from town to oversee the orphanage’s opening, and Regine picks up on... (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... (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.... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Regine fetches Mrs. Alving, who enters and greets Pastor Manders. When Regine leaves, Mrs. Alving insists that Manders should stay in her house while he’s... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Pastor Manders says he doesn’t blame Mrs. Alving for wanting to understand new ideas that have recently... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Returning to the topic of the orphanage’s finances, Pastor Manders shows Mrs. Alving the various documents he’s brought along with him and explains that he... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Although Mrs. Alving decides not to insure the orphanage, Pastor Manders asks if she would be able to cover the expenses if something were to happen... (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... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Interrupting Pastor Manders and Mrs. Alving’s conversation, Oswald finally enters the room. Manders hardly recognizes the young man,... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
While talking to Pastor Manders and Mrs. Alving, Oswald smokes his father’s pipe, which he found in a room upstairs.... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
...a trickster while still managing to accomplish so much in life. At this point, Pastor Manders comments that Oswald left home at a very young age, and when Mrs. Alving suggests... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Although most artists can’t afford to get married, Oswald tells Pastor Manders, many still decide to live together, setting up a home regardless of whether or not... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
...leaves, Mrs. Alving admits that she agrees with everything her son has said. Consequently, Pastor Manders sees this as a good time to tell her something that has been on his... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Mrs. Alving reminds Pastor Manders that Captain Alving was an immoral man in the early years of their marriage, but... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Continuing his criticism of Mrs. Alving, Pastor Manders says that she has also shirked her responsibilities as a mother. This, he says, is... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
Having listened patiently to Pastor Manders, Mrs. Alving finally tells him that he’s passing judgment on matters about which he knows... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The worst part of this entire story, Mrs. Alving tells Pastor Manders, is that one day she heard Captain Alving make a sexually inappropriate advance on their... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Mrs. Alving tells Pastor Manders that she had to put up with Captain Alving’s misbehavior for Oswald’s sake. However, when... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Pastor Manders marvels at the fact that Mrs. Alving is constructing a memorial to Captain Alving even... (full context)
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...he decides to go help her open the bottles. When he leaves the room, Pastor Manders and Mrs. Alving resume their conversation, but they’re interrupted by Regine’s voice, which reaches them... (full context)
Act Two
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
After dinner, Mrs. Alving and Pastor Manders return to the living room to continue their conversation. Mrs. Alving says that they have... (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... (full context)
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...a coward for refusing to tell him that his father was a wretched man. Pastor Manders, for his part, tells her that this isn’t the case, since she was only doing... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...in the next room was like hearing the ghosts of her past. In response, Pastor Manders says that her ideas about ghosts are products of the literature she’s been reading, but... (full context)
Duty and Self-Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Pastor Manders says that his fight to remain true to his faith has been a profound triumph,... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Just as Mrs. Alving and Pastor Manders begin to talk once more about what they should do with Regine, Engstrand enters and... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...when he agreed to keep Johanna’s secret about Regine. As he tries to convince Pastor Manders that he did the right thing, it becomes clear that Engstrand still has no idea... (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 keep quiet about... (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.... (full context)
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
...decides to tell Oswald and Regine that they are half-siblings, but she’s interrupted by Pastor Manders, who returns from the orphanage and says that he has successfully blessed the building. He... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
...Rushing out of the house, Oswald runs in the direction of the disaster while Pastor Manders tells Mrs. Alving that the fire is a sign of God’s judgment on the way... (full context)
Act Three
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...be done to save the building. 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... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
Having suggested—and, in fact, insisted—that Manders was the one to start the fire at the orphanage, Engstrand pontificates about how bad... (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... (full context)
Reputation, Judgement, and Morality Theme Icon
The Past, Inheritance, and Moving On Theme Icon
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...that the hotel will be called the Captain Alving Home. With this, he and Pastor Manders take their leave. (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 burn down, pessimistically... (full context)
Wealth and Manipulation Theme Icon
...daughter as Oswald is his son. Having said this, she sets off to find Pastor Manders, saying that if no other options present themselves, she’ll simply live at the Captain Alving... (full context)