(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

The problem of marriage—the responsibilities of each of the parties, the proper relationship between them, the respective rights, duties, and privileges of each—concerned the thrice-divorced Strindberg, both as a person and as an artist, throughout his adult life. Along with this problem, the complications introduced into it by the feminist movement strongly concerned him also. While his Scandinavian contemporaries, Henrik Ibsen and Bjornstjerne Bjornson, were defending the rights of women in their plays, Strindberg was pleading the cause of masculine supremacy. His relatively early play COMRADES is an example of his attempt to deal with this problem through comic means. Here he is illustrating the impossibility of a marriage based on equal rights and, along with it, the shallowness, meanness, and actual viciousness of those females who aspire to masculine prerogatives. However, though they obviously have Strindberg’s sympathy, the triumphant males here seem little better than the conniving females whom they defeat. The play, inferior to the best of Strindberg, is an excellent example of his early work and interests.