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Already appearing as a moralizing but empty-headed standard of society, denouncing Mrs.Alving's intellectual inquiry and supporting Engstrand's hypocrisy, the character of Manders allows the audience to foresee the thesis of the drama: that a society which unwittingly destroys individuality and encourages deceit perpetrates disease — physical as well as emotional — upon its youthful members.She assures him that under these conditions she would not wish the buildings insured. Alving mentions that the building nearly caught fire yesterday from some burning shavings in the carpenter's shop.
Summary Regina Engstrand, a young girl in service for Mrs. She tries to prevent her father, Jacob Engstrand, from entering.
The rain makes the old man even more disreputable looking than usual, and Regina makes it clear she is ashamed of his coarseness and vulgar appearance.
Manders makes excuses because the "poor fellow" has so many anxieties.
"Heaven be thanked," he says, "I am told he is really making an effort to live a blameless life. Oswald appears, bearing so much likeness to his dead father that Manders is startled; Mrs.
Regina says she has her own plans for the future, especially since Oswald Alving has just returned from his studies in Paris. Regina says she would rather seek a place in town as a governess. To her prompt "of course," he raises objections since the orphanage is dedicated to "higher causes." He points out that his fellow clergymen and their congregations might interpret the insurance to mean "that neither you nor I had a proper reliance on Divine protection." As Mrs.
Alving's advisor he himself would be the first attacked by "spiteful persons" who would publicly slander him.
Bound in marriage by a "sacred bond" her duty was "to cleave to the man you had chosen"; though a husband be profligate, a wife's duty is to bear the cross laid upon her shoulders by "a higher will," Manders continues. Alving answers, for Manders knew nothing of her life from that moment on.
It was imprudent for her to have sought refuge with him at the time, and he is proud to have had the strength of character to lead her back "to the path of duty" and back to her husband. He must know now "that my husband died just as great a profligate as he had been all his life." In fact, she tells him, a disease he contracted from his lifelong excesses caused his death. To think that all the years of her wedded life were nothing but "a hidden abyss of misery" makes his brain reel.
Alving hopes to "silence all rumors and clear away all doubt" as to the truth of her husband's life. With this in mind, the author imparts special significance to the order of appearance of his characters.
None of his father's estate shall pass on to Oswald; "my son shall have everything from me," she states. Regina is the first to appear, showing by dress and demeanor that she is a properly reared servant maid.