In The Ghost Sonata, Strindberg paints a picture of a fallen world based on illusions and deceptions, where human beings, bound together by common guilt, are condemned to suffer for their sins. Only by escaping this world can one find peace and happiness. In this world, filled with death and decay, people are not what they seem to be. Under the veneer of respectability lies corruption.
The Ghost Sonata makes use of both spatial and temporal metaphors. Strindberg sees all humanity as linked by a common network of guilt and sin; the house that the student, an idealistic young man, seeks to enter becomes a symbol for humanity and the social system. The consul, the upper class, lives on the top level; the colonel, the middle class, lives on the ground level; and the superintendent, the lower class, lives below. The poor are found outside the house clamoring at the doors.
Hummel, an old man in a wheelchair, is old enough to know all the inhabitants of the house and understands how they are linked by a chain of guilt and betrayals. The consul (upper class) has slept with the superintendent’s wife (lower class); their daughter, the second generation, perpetuates the chain, for she is having an affair with the aristocrat (upper class), who is married to the consul’s daughter (upper class). The aristocrat links all the classes in their sins. He has married the consul’s daughter (upper class), slept with the colonel’s wife...
(The entire section is 592 words.)