Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1089
The setting contains a two-story house with a balcony. The house has a marble statue of a young girl, pots of hyacinths, and white sheets over the windows to signify mourning. The play opens on a bright Sunday morning. The sound of churchbells, steamship gongs, and organ music can be heard. A milkmaid in a summer dress drinks from a fountain as the disheveled Arkenholz (generally referred to as “the Student”), a Sunday’s child gifted with second sight, enters. Since the Student has been helping the wounded and moving corpses, the Milkmaid bathes his eyes for him. Hummel, an old man in a wheelchair, has seen the Student’s picture in the paper and tries to match the Student with the Colonel’s daughter, who lives in the house. The Student sees the house as a paradise where he could rear a family and live in luxury. Hummel can arrange for him to enter the house if the Student will go to a performance of Die Walkure and sit next to the Colonel’s daughter. Hummel knows everyone in the house and hints that all is not as it seems. The Colonel’s wife is a mummy in a closet. The Dead Consul, who lived on the second floor, has had an illicit relationship with the Superintendent’s Wife, who lives in the basement. Their illegitimate daughter, the Lady in Black, is having an affair with the Aristocrat, who is divorcing the Consul’s legitimate daughter. Hummel’s onetime fiancee is an old woman who looks at the world through a series of mirrors. This eerie ensemble is in the audience’s view, some still, some milling about. Even the Dead Consul walks around.
Hummel wants to control human destinies and to do some good in his life through the Student. Hummel’s icy grip freezes the Student, who tries to free himself. The Student fears that he is selling his soul, but the sight of the beautiful Young Lady moves him, and he knows that Hummel can help him win her. Johansson, Hummel’s servant, describes Hummel as a man who has been everything from a Don Juan to a horse thief. Hummel, riding his chariot like Thor, infiltrates and destroys houses, enslaves people, corrupts the police, and bewitches the poor. Just as the Student is about to back out of his bargain, the Young Lady drops her bracelet, and he retrieves it. Hummel proclaims the Student a hero as the group cheers. Hummel, who has plainly shown that the Milkmaid is the one person he fears, sees her pantomiming the act of drowning and shrinks back. He then reminds the confused Student to go to Die Walkure. The stage is now set for the Student’s entrance into his dream house.
Scene 2 opens in the Round Room, which reveals a marble statue, a mirror, and a pendulum clock. In the first section, two servants, Johansson and Bengstsson, discuss the inhabitants of the house, who have been gathering for twenty years for their ghost supper, an eerie routine in which a group of zombie-like people sit in silence or chomp on biscuits like rats. The Colonel’s wife, once a pretty girl who served as model for the statue, is now a mummy hiding in the closet and prattling like a parrot. Hummel enters unannounced, and the Mummy calls out to him and grabs his wig. She identifies herself as Amelia. Hummel once had an affair with her to avenge himself on the Colonel, who seduced Hummel’s fiancee. The Young Lady is their illegitimate daughter, and Hummel wants her to marry the Student, but the Mummy warns him under peril of death to leave her husband alone.
Hummel wants revenge, however, and has bought up all the Colonel’s promissory notes. The Colonel is a fake: His lineage is extinct, his military title is only honorary, and his hair and teeth are false. Hummel exposes him as actually a kitchen servant. The Student enters and joins the Young Lady in the Hyacinth Room. Once the Aristocrat, the Fiancee, the Colonel, and the Mummy are seated for the ghost supper, Hummel accuses them of lies and deceptions and announces that he will settle accounts. Just as the clock strikes, he also will strike. Grabbing the pendulum of the clock, the Mummy admits that they are sinners doing penance for their sins, but she accuses Hummel of being a self-righteous leech and a hypocrite. She calls in Bengtsson, who exposes Hummel as a kitchen boy and a murderer who drowned a milkmaid because she had seen him commit a crime. The Mummy gives Hummel a rope with which to hang himself in the closet. The Japanese death screen is put next to the door. The Student sings the “Song of the Sun” calling for patience and endurance; the song segues into scene 3.
Scene 3 takes place in the Hyacinth Room, which is filled with multicolored hyacinths and accentuated by a large statue of the Buddha. The Young Lady wants the Student to sing to the hyacinths, their favorite flower. He loves the flowers, but they stab at his heart. He sees the bulb as earth and the stalk as reaching toward the heavens. For both of them, Buddha will transform earth into a paradise. Since they have created the symbolism of the flower together, he considers them married, but she says they must pass a test. Into this paradise comes the Cook, a grotesque, obese, uncontrollable monster who sucks the nourishment out of the food and controls the house, punishing the inhabitants for their sins. The paradise is revealed as less than perfect: The desk wobbles, the inkstand is messy, and the chimney is clogged. The maid dirties the house, and the Young Lady has to do the cleaning and washing. The Young Lady tells the Student that she cannot bear children and that they can never be married. As he sees his paradise slipping away, he reflects on the world of duplicity and illusions and notes that his father was put in a madhouse for telling the truth to his friends. Finally, he begins an elegiac monologue in which he envisions earth as an inferno where madmen crucified Christ and freed robbers. He beckons the Young Lady to sleep and awake in a paradise beyond this world. Bathed in light, the Young Lady dies behind the death screen, and the Student pleads for God’s mercy as a vision of the Island of the Dead comes into view.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 553
August Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata makes use of both spatial and temporal metaphors to create theatrical effects. Strindberg sees all humanity as linked by a common network of guilt and sin; the house becomes a symbol, then, 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 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. The Aristocrat links all the classes in their sins. He has married the Consul’s daughter (upper class), slept with the Colonel’s wife (middle class), and is having an affair with the Lady in Black, the daughter of the Superintendent’s Wife (lower class). Thus, all generations and social classes are interconnected in a house of sin.
The play is also a journey. It begins on a sunny Sunday morning, with steamship bells announcing a voyage. The bright sunlight shines on the Student’s dream house. As hidden sins are revealed and ominous pacts are planned, however, the sky clouds up; eventually, it rains. As the Student enters the house, the atmosphere becomes gloomy and claustrophobic. The Mummy lives in a closet, and the ghost supper provides an eerie scene. As Hummel dies in a closet behind a death screen, the Student symbolically invokes the light with his “Song of the Sun.” The hope soon proves futile, however, as the presence of the ogre Cook dominates the next scene. Finally, the Young Lady, bathed in radiant light, dies as the vision of the Isle of the Dead appears. Having begun on a Sunday with a Sunday’s child seeking resurrection from a night of death, the play ends in a transcendental vision of the dead. The subtle interplay of light and dark intertwines with the play’s themes.
The drama is also constructed as an interior journey, moving from the material, temporal world to a transcendent experience. The play begins on an exterior street, with a host of characters engaging in considerable movement. The Round Room, however, is in view; it becomes the setting for the next scene, which is more claustrophobic, deeper within the interior of the house. In this scene, the Hyacinth Room is in view, and it becomes the setting for the final scene. The play ends in the inner recesses of an Oriental chamber, which fades into a vision of the twilight world of the dead. Not only does one go deeper into the interior of the house, but also the space becomes more constricted, the characters fewer, and the action more static. The play opens in the exterior light of the sun and ends in an inner radiance of white light. The organ music of the opening scenes is transformed into the melancholy music of the finale. Thus, the play makes effective use of both aural and visual effects.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 973
Dream Plays and Psychoanalysis
Strindberg began his successful literary career in the 1880s writing the kind of realistic dramas that were made popular by playwrights like Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov. The Father (1887) and Miss Julie (1888) are both considered to be masterpieces of realism, depicting natural characters in mundane, ordinary surroundings. By the turn of the century, however, Strindberg was reshaping reality on the stage to correspond to his own tortured, nightmarish vision of life. In ''dream plays'' like To Damascus, a trilogy produced between 1898-1901, The Dream Play (1902), and The Ghost Sonata (1907), time and location are often vague and unpredictable. The characters are personality types rather than individuals, and they are mainly alienated, lost human beings struggling with the sins of the flesh while seeking some kind of spiritual fulfillment.
Strindberg's accomplishments in these plays prefigure such major avant-garde literary movements as expressionism and the Theatre of the Absurd, and were generated, at least in part, by his own terrible relationships, bouts with mental illness, and spiritual crises. At the same time, however, a widespread interest in the human mind was developing in Europe, owed partly to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). In The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1905), Freud tried to describe the structure of the mind, analyze how it functioned, provide reasons for human behavior and suggest ways of dealing with mental illness. In his work, Freud emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind, a place where dreams may be interpreted as the key to understanding suppressed desires. At its root, Freud's psychoanalytical theories are a prescription for seeing past the illusions to the realities beneath the surface— the single most common theme in Strindberg's ‘‘dream plays.’’
August Strindberg was married and divorced three times in a society that did not favor the rights of women, and held the vows of marriage sacred. Each time he was probably mismatched with his mate. Strindberg claimed to cherish domesticity and a "traditional" family life, but each woman he wed was outgoing and career-minded. He met Siri von Essen, his first wife, when she was married to a nobleman, Baron Wrangel. He viewed them as mother and father figures, but nevertheless fell in love with Siri and lured her away. In a highly publicized and scandalous move, she divorced the Baron, and married Strindberg in 1877. They spent fifteen years together, battling each other over his increasingly eccentric personality, while she tried to become a successful actress.
They divorced in 1891, and Strindberg married FridaUhl, and Austrian journalist, in 1893. She was twenty-three years his junior. In the year that they were married, they actually only spent a few months together—just long enough to have one daughter together. After a stretch of a few years during which Strindberg scorned the company of women, he married for the last time in 1901. His relationship with Harriet Bosse, a famous Norwegian actress 29 years younger than him, lasted only a little longer than his time with Frida. They were married for three years, though they separated frequently, and they had one child together before divorcing in 1904.
Sweden, like most of the countries of the western world, did not allow women to vote in the nineteenth century. In fact, it was not until 1919— the year before American women were first allowed to cast ballots—that women in Sweden were granted suffrage. During Strindberg's lifetime, the rights of women were restricted, and often given to them legally and socially through the marriage contract with their husbands. In many countries, women could not legally borrow money or even own property without their husbands' permission. While the industrial age had brought many women out of the home and into the workplace, the jobs available to them were mainly unskilled, menial tasks that required long hours for little pay. Other than house-cleaning or repetitive, sometimes dangerous factory work, women might become teachers or clerical assistants, but not much else. The women Strindberg married—a journalist and two actresses—may have been considered adventurous, even improper, for their time.
Divorce was available (and Strindberg relied upon it frequently), but only if both parties agreed, and if there was a strong, just cause, such as infidelity, criminal activity, physical incapacity or insanity. In any event, divorcees were stigmatized by society, and relatively few couples opted to separate. More often, unhappy couples remained together in misery, true to their vows, but false to their hearts.
The Realism movement in the theatre that shaped Strindberg's early writing owes a great debt to Henrik Ibsen, the Norwegian playwright who produced works like A Doll's House (1879), Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), and Hedda Gabler (1890). Like his fellow realists George Bernard Shaw, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky, Ibsen sought to portray characters, actions and the environment in a realistic way on the stage. Unlike the open, emblematic staging of Shakespeare's plays during the Renaissance, or the painted, two-dimensional "realism'' of the German Romantic theatre of the late eighteenth century, realist writers of the late-nineteenth century paid great attention to detail in an effort to reproduce the actual world for audiences. Playwrights and designers took great pains to describe and build complicated, three-dimensional rooms, complete with walls, doors, furniture, working lights, and even ceilings. Characters in realistic plays are affected by both heredity and environment, and respond in natural ways to psychological and physical conflict. Additionally, the themes employed by realist writers are common, everyday problems with significance to many people. Ibsen wrote about marital problems, disease, poverty, inter-class conflict and many other issues faced by his audiences in the 1880s and 1890s. Just after the turn of the century, facing competition from the novel new form of entertainment called "movies,'' the theatre began to turn away from Realism and toward more experimental styles such as Symbolism and Expressionism.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 822
The form of The Ghost Sonata is modeled after a particular type of chamber music called a ‘‘sonata.’’ The sonata traces its roots to the fifteenth century, when it was used to describe a variety of selections of purely instrumental music for individual instruments, trios or ensembles. Its most recognizable form, however, began to take shape in the mid-eighteenth century. During the Enlightenment era, sonatas started to take the form of three- or four-part compositions, often for solo pianists or violinists.
The classic sonata consists of independent movements that vary in key, mood and tempo. Typically the first section of a sonata is exposition. The exposition establishes one musical theme in a principal key center, called the tonic, then produces another theme in a secondary key center, called the dominant. The two themes intermingle and bridge into the second section, known as the development portion of the sonata. During the development stage, the themes presented in the exposition are played in new ways, with new combinations and variations that may include minor keys not found in the exposition. Finally, in the recapitulation section, the themes are again played in their original order, but only in the tonic key.
Like the classic sonata musical form, Strind-berg's The Ghost Sonata is divided into three distinct sections. In the first scene, the exposition stage of the sonata, he presents the beautiful house and all of the people in it as they seem to be, and he introduces his two major themes: the Student's youthful idealism and love and longing for perfection, and the Old Man's cynicism, hatred, and longing for revenge. In the second scene, the development phase, Strindberg moves inside the house, and these themes interweave as all of the masks and lies are stripped away from the people and the house is seen for what it really is: an abode for less-than-perfect people, sinners who have spent years paying for their crimes. In the third and final scene, the recapitulation, both of the themes presented in the exposition are proven faulty and destructive. The Student by himself, forming the tonic key, plays both through both themes and finally arrives at a sort of coda to the composition. A new, hopeful theme emerges: the faint hope for the final salvation of mankind in an afterlife free of the miseries and disappointments of the mortal world.
Strindberg is considered to be one of the most important influences on an avant-garde artistic movement called expressionism that became very popular in Germany in the 1920s. While writers of realism at the turn of the century tried to produce plots that mirrored real life events and characters who seemed to talk, move and act like real people, expressionist writers, like expressionist painters, tried to portray life as they saw it, altered by strong inner emotions, and modified and distorted by the artist's vision of reality. As a result, expressionist plays are often disjointed, nightmarish scenes that bear little resemblance to the real world.
Strindberg's The Ghost Sonata contains many elements also found in later twentieth century ex-pressionistic dramas. For example, his characters are types, rather than individual people. They are known by labels, like ‘‘The Student’’ or ‘‘The Old Man,'' rather than by names, and sometimes they do not even have distinct personalities. The play is filled with symbolic imagery, like that often associated with dreams. The pendulum clock, the Mummy, the "vampires," the Old Man's wheelchair, and the house itself, where the characters have their ‘‘ghost supper,’’ are all symbols representing abstract ideas like time, fear, guilt, shame, power and corruption.
Like a dream, the play does not follow a straight line of cause-and-effect actions. Time is ambiguous, and can even be stopped like the hands of a clock, and the characters act in strange, unpredictable ways. Perhaps most important of all, The Ghost Sonata projects the feelings and attitudes of its author through the words and actions of his characters. As a style, expressionism is meant to convey the inner workings of the artist's mind. Strindberg's own tortured psyche is on display throughout the play. He was, by his own admission, compulsively neat, and he required an orderly, clean environment. Little wonder, then, that the Girl in The Ghost Sonata is so dismayed by a housekeeper who dirties more than she cleans. Reportedly, Strindberg also feared cooks, and often suspected them of poisoning his food, which may explain the appearance of vampire-like kitchen servants in his play. And, given the dark, dismal entries he left behind in his journals and letters, there is little doubt he spoke through the Student at the end of the play when he mourned ''this world of illusion, guilt, suffering and death, this world of endless change, disappointment, and pain. The lesson Arkenholtz learns—that the world can be a cold, cruel place—is one Strindberg seemed to live, and desperately wanted to express in The Ghost Sonata.
Compare and Contrast
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 591
1907: Gustav V becomes King of Sweden. During his 43-year rule the Social Democratic Party created many progressive reforms, including extension of voting rights, the introduction of an eight-hour workday, public child welfare, and state-subsidized housing.
Today: A new Swedish Constitution in 1975 dissolved all of the powers of the king. Sweden is now governed by a Prime Minister and a Parliament, and, like many industrial nations, is in the process of deregulating the economy, privatizing formerly government-owned industries and businesses, and cutting government spending on welfare programs.
1907: Many countries around the world, including the United States, do not allow women to vote, or to serve in public office.
Today: In 1994, Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson led a Social Democratic Party government in which half of his cabinet, and 41 percent of the entire parliament, were women, the highest percentage of women lawmakers in any government in the world.
1907: Marriage in most western cultures is viewed as a religious vow and a civil contract, and separations, or divorces, are hard to obtain. In Great Britain and the United States, for example, a separation decree could only be granted if one spouse could prove that the other had somehow caused injury, through such means as adultery, habitual drunkenness, impotence, committing a felony, abandonment, or severely abusive behavior. Men and women who divorced were often viewed as immoral, and treated as outcasts. Out of almost one million marriages conducted annually in the United States, fewer than 100,000 (less than 10%) end in divorce.
Today: ''No-fault'' divorce laws in many states have made divorces much easier to obtain. ''Irreconcilable differences'' is a common, simple, and acceptable reason cited as the reason many spouses separate. Each year, 2.5 million people marry in the United States, and nearly half of those marriages are expected to end in divorce.
1907: The early years of flight: On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright first flew a heavier-than-air craft under its own power for 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. A year later, he and his brother, Wilbur, had constructed an "airplane'' that could stay airborne, turn and bank.
Today: The wartime uses for airplanes helped speed the development of the transportation technology. By the 1950s, more people were crossing the Atlantic Ocean in airplanes than on ships. In the 1970s, Britain and France developed the Concorde, a jet plane that allows travelers to fly faster than the speed of sound, and reach the United States from Europe in only a few hours. In 1995, airlines worldwide flew an estimated 1.26 billion passengers.
1907: Although ‘‘penny arcades’’ had been showing short motion pictures to individual viewers since Thomas Edison demonstrated his ''kinetoscope'' in 1894, it wasn' t until photographer George Eastman and inventor Thomas Armat combined flexible film with a projector that mass audiences could sit in one room and watch ''movies" together. The first movie theatre opened in 1905, and by 1909 there were 8,000, each seating about 100 people, offering short film attractions. D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) proved that the new medium could compete with the style of realism popular in the live theatre, and soon the film industry surpassed the theatre as the world's favorite form of entertainment.
Today: Multimillion-dollar blockbuster films may now be purchased or rented, taken home, and viewed on a television with the help of a videocassette recorder (VCR) or digital video disc (DVD) player. Many films are made and released directly to the new tape or disc format, or aired on one of many cable television stations. The television is the late-twentieth century's private kinestoscope, and fewer than 10% of the population attends live theatrical events.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 64
A television version of The Ghost Sonata, translated by Michael Myer and directed by Stuart Burge, was aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation on March 16, 1962. Afterward, the same production was broadcast in the United States and Australia.
In 1930 the play was turned into an opera, with music by Julius Weissmann, and performed in Munich. The operatic Ghost Sonata appeared in Duisburg and Dortmund in 1956.
Bibliography and Further Reading
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 485
Bandy, Stephen C. ‘‘Strindberg's Biblical Sources for Ghost Sonata,’’ in Scandinavian Studies, August, 1968, Vol. 40, no. 3, p. 208.
Goodman, Randolph. Introduction to Drama on Stage [his English language version of The Ghost Sonata], Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978, pp. 428-437.
Hampton, Wilborn. A review of The Ghost Sonata, in the New York Times, May 9, 1995.
Lide, Barbara. A review of The Ghost Sonata, in Theatre Journal, March, 1992, p. 109-111.
Nicoll, Allardyce. World Drama: From Aeschylus to Anouilh, Harcourt, Brace and Company, rev. ed., 1976, p. 563.
Richardson, Maurice. A review of the BBC television production of The Ghost Sonata, in the London Observer, March 18, 1962, reprinted in Drama on Stage, edited by Randolph Goodman, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978, pp. 439-441.
Sinclair, Clive. A review of The Ghost Sonata, in the Times Literary Supplement, June 12, 1992, p. 18.
Strindberg, August. Letter to Edvard Brandes, c. June 12, 1885, excerpted in File on Strindberg, edited by Michael Meyer, Methuen, 1986, p. 51.
Strindberg, August. Letter to Anders Eliasson, July 11,1896, excerpted in Strindberg, by Michael Meyer, Secker and Warburg, 1985, p. 341.
For Further Reading
Meyer, Michael. Strindberg, Secker and Warburg, 1985. A thorough biography of playwright August Strindberg, including a complete history of his childhood, his several marriages, his 1884 trial for blasphemy in Stockholm, his investigations into the occult, and his immense body of writing, including plays, novels, stories and essays. Also contains several pages of photographs and illustrations from Strindberg's life and the production of his plays.
Meyer, Michael, ed. File on Strindberg, Methuen, 1986. A collection of excerpted comments and criticism about Strindberg's plays, taken largely from theatre reviews, letters from Strindberg's friends and associates, and writings by the author himself. Also includes a chronology of Strindberg's work and a bibliography of other research sources.
Nicoll, Allardyce. World Drama: From Aeschylus to Anouilh, Harcourt, Brace and Company, rev. ed., 1976. In a book that describes trends in dramatic literature from the Ancient Greeks to the twentieth century, Nicoll places August Strindberg alongside Ibsen and his other Scandinavian contemporaries in an essay titled ' 'Strindberg and the Play of the Subconscious.''
Strindberg, August. The Son of a Servant, translated by Claud Field, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1913. Strindberg's autobiography, in which he details his unhappy childhood as one of eight surviving children born to a bankrupt father who was once part of an aristocratic family and a mother who was once a waitress.
Tornqvist, Egil. Strindbergian Drama: Themes and Structure, Humanities Press, 1982. Tornqvist notes that several authors and critics have assembled biographies of August Strindberg, and attempted critical discussions of the ideas found in his plays and where he fits into late nineteenth century theatre history, but that little has been written about the actual structure of his plays, and how his formal style is different from that of his contemporaries. Strindbergian Drama examines ten of Strindberg's plays, from The Father to A Dream Play and The Ghost Sonata, and considers the importance of imagery, plot, language and borrowed forms to their creation.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 305
Bandy, Stephen C. “Strindberg’s Biblical Sources for The Ghost Sonata,” in Scandinavian Studies. XL (1968), pp. 200-209.
Corrigan, Robert W. “Strindberg and the Abyss,” in A Dream Play and The Ghost Sonata: With Selected Notes to the Members of the Intimate Theatre, 1966.
Haugen, Einar. “Strindberg the Regenerated.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 29 (1930): 257-270. Discusses The Ghost Sonata as one of several late plays by Strindberg in which Christian virtues triumph over the bleak vision of the earlier plays.
Jarvi, Raymond. “Strindberg’s The Ghost Sonata and Sonata Form,” in Mosaic. V (1972), pp. 69-84.
Johnson, Walter. August Strindberg. Boston: Twayne, 1976. One of the Twayne series’ standard overviews of life and works, with a useful bibliography for beginning readers. A chapter entitled “Dramatist of Penetration and Representation” is helpful on the chamber plays.
Lawson, Stephen R. “Strindberg’s Dream Play and Ghost Sonata,” in Yale Theatre. V (1974), pp. 95-102.
Mays, Milton A. “Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata: Parodied Fairy Tale on Original Sin.” Modern Drama 10, no. 2 (September, 1967): 189-194. An excellent explication of the manner in which Strindberg turns folkloric elements into allegories.
Meyer, Michael. Strindberg. New York: Random House, 1985. A long, well-written biography with excellent illustrations. One entire chapter is devoted to the chamber plays.
Stockenstrom, Goran. “The Journey from the Isle of Life to the Isle of the Dead: The Idea of Reconciliation in The Ghost Sonata,” in Scandinavian Studies. L (1978), pp. 133-149.
Ward, John. “The Ghost Sonata,” in The Social and Religious Plays of Strindberg, 1980.
Whitaker, Thomas R. “Seeing the Hidden,” in Fields of Play in Modern Drama, 1977.
Williams, Raymond. “August Strindberg.” In Drama, from Ibsen to Eliot. London: Chatto & Windus, 1952. Williams chooses five plays—The Father (1887), Miss Julie (1888), To Damascus (1898), Easter (1901), and The Ghost Sonata—to trace the evolution of Strindberg’s dramatic style and technique. An excellent commentary on Strindberg the artist.