Ghosts begins with Oswald Alving returning home to visit his mother. As a young boy, he was sent away in an effort to remove him from the influence of his profligate father. This time, however, Oswald intends to stay and marry the maid, Regina, unaware that she holds a family secret. Mrs. Alving's former love, Pastor Manders, reprimands her for not living a more conventional life. Ultimately, Oswald and his mother face a wrenching life-and-death decision.