Themes and Meanings
In The Ghost Sonata, August Strindberg paints a picture of a fallen world based on illusions and deceptions, where human beings, bound together by a 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 world of The Ghost Sonata is moribund, haunted by the presence of death and decrepitude. Signs of death are everywhere. White sheets are hung over the windows; funeral flowers are strewn across the streets; flags are at half-mast; the Student has been handling corpses; characters are in mourning clothes; the Japanese death screen is in view; and the Isle of the Dead appears at the end. Ghosts haunt the streets. The Milkmaid reenacts her drowning; the Dead Consul walks the streets in a winding-sheet. Many of the characters are zombies, often motionless and silent. Hummel is cold because his blood has congealed. The Colonel’s wife has actually turned into a mummy, a preserved corpse. The world is populated by the wounded victims of collapsing houses as well as by the crippled Hummel, the bald and toothless Colonel, the decaying Mummy, and the sick Young Lady. People are stricken with a sense of paralysis and impotence as they enact meaningless and repetitive rituals and wait for death. Strindberg paints a picture of a world that has fallen...
(The entire section is 433 words.)