Reflecting on my own marriage, I have just seen Ghosts in a new light.

The Young Captain Alving and Pastor Manders once had, like youthful Oswald, a full measure of the joy of life. Mrs Alving’s sterile subservience to duty drove the captain to syphilitic adventures and ultimate emptiness. Looking for a better life, the young Mrs Alving flees to Pastor Manders who, like her, puts duty and propriety first, becoming hypocritical in middle age.

Oswald, dying of syphilis - the legacy of his parent's joyless marriage - returns home from Paris. He finds temporary relief from the sterile home environment in warmth from the glowing embers of the Captain’s memorial, the orphanage. While his dutiful mother is as cold as ever, the memory of his father can still provide a little warmth.

Mrs Alving finally cries, “No, no, no!--Yes!--no, no!” in response to Oswald’s, “The sun--the sun”. She screams despairingly, not so much at the catatonic Oswald, as at the devastation she has wreaked on her family, and on her own life, by putting duty before joy and warmth. The ghost of a young, joy-filled captain - deprived of a warming sun - returns to devastate her.