The hotel that Engstrand wants to open for sailors is an embodiment of the play’s theme that things aren’t always what they appear to be. Although Engstrand claims that his hotel would be a place for respectable captains and other lauded sailors to stay when they’re ashore, he nonetheless implies that the establishment would function as a brothel, as evidenced by his remark that there should be female employees at the hotel because the guests will want to have “fun” in the evenings. Despite Engstrand’s unseemly vision for the hotel, he still manages to convince Pastor Manders—a man who vehemently condemns all kinds of illicit behavior—to fund the endeavor. In fact, Manders even accepts that the hotel could someday be a “benefit to the town.” Manders’s naïve opinion of this morally questionable establishment represents the ways in which people (especially those who live in a society that values superficial appearances) often fail to see things for what they are, as Manders takes it for granted that Engstrand’s hotel will be an innocent and even helpful place. In turn, the hotel symbolizes how easy it is for people to dupe others simply by pretending to be one thing while behaving like something else altogether.
Engstrand’s Hotel Quotes in Ghosts
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.
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?