Study Guide

A Dream Play

by August Strindberg

A Dream Play Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Daughter of Indra

Daughter of Indra, incarnated as Agnes, a goddess who comes down to Earth in the form of a beautiful woman to find out why humanity is so discontented. Like Christ, she experiences the pain of being human. At first, she is hopeful that love will conquer all, but after she listens to the anguished cries of humanity, experiences the pain of family life, and discovers that reform always will be stifled by the self-righteous, she can look on humanity only with compassion. She finally realizes that human beings are creatures who hopelessly harbor spiritual aspirations but are held down by the weight of their fleshly existence. When she ascends back into the heavens, she throws her shoes into the fire of purification as she leaves a world of never-ending conflicts and contradictions.

The Officer

The Officer, Alfred, a high-ranking military officer and teacher. As the action of the play telescopes in time, he changes from a youthful, effervescent, well-groomed soldier to an aging, weary, unkempt derelict as he hopelessly spends a lifetime waiting for his dream lover, the opera singer Victoria. Restless and self-pitying, he is constantly irritated by the injustice and repetitiveness of life but continues to hold on to the romantic notion that love will cure all ills. When he rescues the Daughter of Indra (Agnes) from the drudgery of domestic life and takes her to Fairhaven, a romantic paradise, he lands in Foulstrand, where he witnesses the everlasting misery of the human condition. In his constant failure to find true love, he represents disillusioned romanticism.

The Attorney

The Attorney, Axel, a lawyer. Through his dealings with the crimes and viciousness of humanity, he has acquired a pale, haggard, and discolored face, along with blackened and bleeding hands. Denied his doctorate by the self-righteous academicians, he becomes a Christ figure who suffers rejection because he defends the poor and helpless. More of a realist than the Officer,...

(The entire section is 831 words.)