(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

THE LINK, a one-act play in sixteen scenes, is one of Strindberg’s briefer attempts to deal dramatically with the problems of marriage and divorce—problems which concerned him personally throughput his adult life. (He had experienced the first of his three divorces in 1891, and there are undoubtedly autobiographical connections here.) The “link,” which gives the play its title, is the child of the two people who wish to be separated. The child holds them together when everything else is gone between them; the desire to prevent the child from becoming a ward of the court unites them, their old antagonisms still alive, in a common bond of enmity against the unfeeling powers of the state. In this, the play becomes something more than merely a commentary on divorce. It becomes an expose of modern justice. Once the conflict of Baron Sprengel and his wife is placed before the court, it is no longer theirs. In the hands of the youthful Judge and the callous jurors, it is stripped of its human qualities and reduced to the cold terms of abstract argument. This is a social evil, but the ever-present moralist in Strindberg seems to imply that it is fit punishment for the sins of the erring husband and wife.