It creates an atmosphere by repeating various themes, rather than developing a story through conventional portrayals of character and a linear plot. The Ghost Sonata does not take place in the real world; or at least not in a world most people would recognize as reality. Accordingly, the characters in The Ghost Sonata speak, move and act as if they are part of a dream—or a nightmare. One sees glimpses of the future, another embodies tragedies from the past.

Author:Vikinos Fenrigor
Language:English (Spanish)
Published (Last):11 November 2009
PDF File Size:11.93 Mb
ePub File Size:19.93 Mb
Price:Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]

It creates an atmosphere by repeating various themes, rather than developing a story through conventional portrayals of character and a linear plot. The Ghost Sonata does not take place in the real world; or at least not in a world most people would recognize as reality. Accordingly, the characters in The Ghost Sonata speak, move and act as if they are part of a dream—or a nightmare. One sees glimpses of the future, another embodies tragedies from the past.

There are literal ghosts and vampires in the play, as well as a mysterious woman known as the Mummy. The world Strindberg created in The Ghost Sonata was one he found in his own tortured imagination. On stage, his vision of an alternate reality was a forerunner to later twentieth century experiments in non-realistic dramatic literature, such as Expressionism, popular in Germany in the s, and the Absurdist movement of the s, made popular by writers like Samuel Beckett , Eugene Ionesco , and Jean Genet.

When the play was originally staged at the Intimate Theatre in , its strange, avant-garde style and grim view of the world made it unpopular with critics. In it was turned into an opera with music by Julius Weissmann and performed in Munich, and the British Broadcasting Corporation aired a television production of The Ghost Sonata in His life and career at the turn of the twentieth century, however, was a twisting path of minor successes and major public humiliations, of deep psychological and spiritual turmoil, and of a love-hate relationship with women that scarred his mind and inspired him to some of his best writing.

Strindberg was an author whose life was an open book. Everything he experienced and felt, from unhappy memories of his childhood to marital strife and battles with madness and despair found its way into his many novels, short stories, poems, essays and plays. Strindberg was born in Stockholm on January 22, His mother had been a waitress. His parents had three children—all sons—before they were married.

They wed just before August was born, and had several more children, eight of whom survived. By his own admission, Strindberg felt the world was unjust toward him, that his birth into this once noble, now impoverished family was a mistake. These conflicts—an attraction toward motherly figures that might provide him with the affection he craved, and a repulsion from strong, domineering, sexual women—appear repeatedly in his later plays. Although Strindberg studied at the Swedish University of Upsala on and off for several years, he constantly experienced financial troubles and was unable to complete a degree.

Still, he managed to build a wide-ranging resume. As a young man in Stockholm he worked as a teacher, a journalist, and a librarian. He briefly studied chemistry in the hope of attending medical school, but upon failing his entrance examinations he decided to become an actor. After struggling in a minor part, someone advised Strindberg that he should train at the Dramatic Academy to improve his skills.

Offended at the suggestion and frustrated by his lack of respect and success, Strindberg attempted suicide by swallowing an opium pill. Instead of dying, though, he awoke from the effects of the drug with vivid memories of his childhood, which he turned into his first three plays in , The Freethinker, A Nameday Gift, and Hermione.

With this early work, Strindberg earned a little recognition as an artist, but no money to support himself. For a few years he worked at various jobs while continuing to write poetry and plays, then landed a position as an assistant librarian at the Royal Library of Stockholm.

He spent eight years at the library, from , reading and writing constantly. During this time he met his first wife, Siri von Essen. She was married to Baron Wrangel, an older man, and already had a young daughter. Strindberg frequently visited the couple, and had begun to view them as parental figures, all the while falling in love with Siri. For her part, Siri was enchanted by romantic notions of the theatre and wanted to leave her dull family life and become an actress.

She divorced the Baron and married Strindberg in , a scandalous move that was widely publicized. In he published Getting Married, a collection of scandalous short stories that drew charges of blasphemy back in Sweden. Strindberg faced a trial and was acquitted, but remained bitter about his treatment at the hands of his fellow countrymen.

While his relationship with Siri was deteriorating, and his bouts with mental illness growing more severe, Strindberg produced some of his best-known plays. Strindberg divorced Siri in and married Austrian journalist Frida Uhl in the following year. He was forty-four and she was twenty-one.

She left him within three months and, though she returned and they had one child together, their relationship ended permanently in For the next few years Strindberg lived in Paris, traveled in artistic circles, and dabbled in science, the occult, and alchemy. He actually tried to discover a chemical secret for producing gold and, in the process, injured himself severely and spent several months in the hospital.

In Strindberg met and married the Norwegian actress, Harriet Bosse, who was 29 years younger than him. For the next few years Strindberg wrote nothing and many of his plays were ignored by Swedish theatres. In Strindberg founded his own Intimate Theatre in Stockholm. None met with particular success, and for the last three years of his life Strindberg wrote only short articles about religion and politics.

He died of stomach cancer on May 14, , at the age of The Ghost Sonata begins the morning after a terrible disaster. A house collapsed in Stockholm, Sweden, where the action of the play is set, and a poor student, named Arkenholz, witnessed the tragedy and spent all night tending to the wounded and dying.

He appears the next morning, filthy and rumpled, at a public drinking fountain outside of an expensive city apartment house. The Student meets a milkmaid at the fountain and tells her about his experience of the night before. The Milkmaid, it turns out, is actually an apparition, seen only by the Student. Still, she listens to him and even hands him a cup of water and helps him rinse his face with a cloth.

Not far away, Jacob Hummel, an old man in a wheelchair, watches the scene and listens to the Student speak, apparently, to thin air. The Old Man approaches the Student and asks him questions about his life and family. The Student confesses that his father was, indeed, the merchant the Old Man remembers, though they each have a different story about the relationship the two men shared.

The Student recalls his father as bankrupt and ruined, and remembers him blaming his misfortune on the Old Man.

For his part, the Old Man insists it was the merchant himself who squandered his fortunes, then robbed him of his life savings. The Colonel and his daughter live in the beautiful house near the fountain—the very building the Student has been passing by each day and jealously admiring. He has had dreams of living in such a home, with a wife, two children, and a generous income. There is a statue of a beautiful woman, seen through a window, that represents the Mummy who lives inside.

Once a lovely, radiant young lady, the Mummy is now, according to the Old Man, a half-crazed recluse who lives in a closet and worships her own statue. Seated at the window of another room is the Fiancee, a white-haired old woman who was once engaged to the Old Man. This supernatural ability allowed him to see into the future the night before, and save the inhabitants of the house that collapsed.

With his second sight, he also saw the apparition of the Milkmaid at the fountain, and is now able to see the ghost of the Dead Man walk out of the house and around the corner to see how many people have come to pay their respects. Now the poor are lined up around the house, mourning his passing.

The house the Student so desperately wants to enter is filled with this odd collection of characters and one other figure who attracts his attention more than anyone else: the Girl.

The Old Man and the Student watch as she returns from a morning of horseback riding and enters the house. The Student is struck to the soul by her beauty, and more determined than ever to do whatever the Old Man wants in order to meet her and enter her house.

While the Old Man is entertaining himself in this macabre way, Johansson returns for a brief conversation with the Student, who tries to learn more about his new benefactor. Johansson compares the Old Man to the god Thor, riding in his wheelchair chariot, and says he has the power to build and destroy both homes and lives.

It is no mere coincidence that the Old Man encountered the Student and has convinced him to do his bidding. His mind once again occupied with thoughts of the Girl, the Student decides to stay and do whatever the Old Man asks.

As if on cue, the Old Man returns, standing up in his wheelchair, which is being pulled along by a group of beggars. He shouts to the residents of the nearby homes to clap their hands, cheer and celebrate the deeds of the Student, who risked his life to save the lives of others in the accident of the day before. The Old Man boasts that, like a Sunday child, he too has the gifts of prophecy and healing. Once, he claims, he brought a drowned person back to life.

Suddenly, the Milkmaid reappears. She is making motions like a drowning person and only the Student and the Old Man can see her. Mysteriously, the Old Man is horrified at her appearance. He collapses and shouts at Johansson to quickly take him away. They have been meeting for tea and biscuits in the same room, with the same people, sitting in silence or saying the same things for twenty years. No one ever says anything new, Bengtsson explains, for fear that their secrets will be discovered. It is too late, though: the Colonel and the Girl met the Student at the opera, just as the Old Man planned, and they invited him home for dinner.

The Old Man out of his wheelchair and hobbling along on crutches arrives uninvited and demands to be let in to see the Colonel. Bengtsson runs off to fetch his master, and the Old Man sends Johansson away, leaving himself alone in the room with the statue of Amelia as a young lady. As he stands admiring the shapely marble form, he is startled to hear the parrot-like voice of the Mummy, the older Amelia, calling him from the closet.

The Old Man does not fear his own death, however, and explains that he must complete his revenge. He has in mind that he will help the Student become rich, and that the Student will marry the Girl, and all he needs to carry out his plan is an invitation to the ghost supper being held that evening. It is the moment the Old Man has been waiting for.

He explains to the Colonel that he has gone around and bought up all of his promissory notes—the debts the Colonel has accumulated in order to keep up his wealthy standard of living. Taking away his belongings, however, is only the beginning. One at a time, the Old Man strips the Colonel of everything he holds dear. He tells him his noble family name has actually been extinct for a century—that he is no longer a nobleman—and shows him a document of proof.

He reveals that he is not actually a Colonel, since the American Volunteer Force in which he once served was disbanded and all its titles abolished. The Old Man even points out that the one-time Colonel wears a wig and false teeth and was actually once a kitchen lackey.

He orders the Colonel to allow the ghost dinner to go on as planned so he can tear apart the entire household. When they are all seated in a circle, the Old Man reveals his plan: The Girl, his daughter, has been suffering from a mysterious illness, he explains. The sickness has actually been caused by the crimes in the air of the house, and once the crimes are exposed, and the criminals driven away, the Student and the Girl may marry and start a new life together in the house that he will give them.

He tells them all their time will be up when the clock strikes.


The Ghost Sonata Study Guide

Don't have an account yet? Get the most out of your experience with a personalized all-access pass to everything local on events, music, restaurants, news and more. To set the mood, he searches through his record collection. The execution: The Swedish playwright and poet, novelist, painter, autobiographer, photographer, musician, occultist, essayist revolutionized theater.


The Ghost Sonata

Written in , it was first produced at Strindberg's Intimate Theatre in Stockholm on 21 January Bergman directed it four times: in , , , and Strindberg took the title from Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. The Ghost Sonata is a key text in the development of modernist drama and a vivid example of a chamber play. In it, Strindberg creates a world in which ghosts walk in bright daylight, a beautiful woman is transformed into a mummy and lives in the closet, and the household cook sucks all the nourishment out of the food before she serves it to her masters. The Ghost Sonata relates the adventures of a young student, who idealizes the lives of the inhabitants of a stylish apartment building in Stockholm. He makes the acquaintance of the mysterious Jacob Hummel, who helps him to find his way into the apartment, only to find that it is a nest of betrayal and sickness.

Related Articles