Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 198
There a few prominent themes in August Strindberg's play, The Father, one of which is the complex and, at times, tense dynamics between males and females. The conflicts in the marital affairs of the characters are a microcosm of the conflicts between men and women in general.
The play examines gender roles, at least during the time of the play's writing, and questions those roles' integrity. In particular, the play inquires, whether it was Strindberg's intention or not, into the nature of patriarchy and its validity.
As the title suggests, the play centers on the concept of fatherhood, but fatherhood itself is a foundation for patriarchy as a social construct. If a father doesn't know if a child is truly his, how can he apply his control and power over that child and the child's mother? The Captain fears any feminist or feminine power that threatens to undermine his authoritarian ways. He feels that women, particularly the wife, is a threat to his identity as a man.
However, in the end, the Captain is institutionalized by Laura and he begins to regress towards a primordial stage of his human development—that of a child dependent on his "mother."