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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 214

The Father by August Strindberg is a play that focuses on the battle of the sexes. The author discusses women who are against a male-dominated world. Strindberg addresses this issue from a religious and empirical perspective. He further gives a clear description of the type of relationships men should have with their wives and daughters. The author admits that paternity is a primary cause of marital problems.

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Strindberg writes about a couple, Huck and Laura, who constantly disagree on their daughter’s future. Laura wants their daughter, Bertha, to be an educator but be home-schooled in an environment where she will learn Christian values. She is not comfortable with her daughter going to a school where her faith will be swayed because of friends who are atheists and have negative views about religion.

To ensure that Bertha does not go to school, she tells people that Huck has a psychological condition. She further tries to make him believe that he is not Bertha’s father. Despite her efforts, Huck can see his wife’s plan. However, he finds it hard to go against her. Furthermore, Laura is manipulative and callous. She taunts Huck to a point where he is about to kill her and uses the incident as proof that he is mentally unstable.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1083

When Nöjd gets a servant girl named Emma in trouble, the captain sends an orderly to bring Nöjd to face the pastor. The culprit is vague about his affair and hints that the paternity of the child is uncertain and that it is possible that Ludwig is the real father. The pastor tells Nöjd that he will have to support the child, but the soldier claims that Ludwig should contribute also. The captain declares angrily that the case will go to court. After Nöjd leaves, the captain, who is married to the pastor’s sister Laura, berates the pastor for his gentleness. The pastor says he thinks it a pity to saddle Nöjd with the support of a child if he is not the real father.

In his house, complains the captain, there are too many women: his mother-in-law, a governess, old nurse Margaret, and his daughter Bertha. The captain, worried about his daughter’s education, which is being influenced in all different directions by the people around her, deplores the incessant struggle between men and women.

After the pastor leaves, Laura enters to collect her household money. Because his affairs are near bankruptcy, the captain asks her to keep an account of the money she spends. Laura asks what he has decided about Bertha’s education. Laura objects when he announces his intention to send her to town to board with Auditor Safberg, a freethinker, but the captain reminds her that a father has the sole control of his children. When Laura brings up the subject of Nöjd’s affair, the captain admits that the paternity will be difficult to determine. Laura scoffingly claims that if such were the case, even the child of a married woman could be any other man’s offspring.

Laura confides to Dr. Östermark, the new village doctor, her suspicion that her husband is mentally ill. He buys books he never reads, and he tries to fathom events on other planets by peering through a microscope. He has become a man who cannot stand by his decisions, although he is vehement when he first utters one. The captain, speaking confidentially with his old nurse, expresses his fear that his family is plotting against him and that something evil is about to happen.

The family quarrel is clearly outlined when Bertha complains to her father that her grandmother is trying to teach her spiritualism and has even told the girl that the captain, who is a meteorologist by profession, is a charlatan. Bertha agrees with her father that she ought to go away to study, but Laura boasts that...

(The entire section contains 1297 words.)

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