Themes and Meanings

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Storm is an intimate study of human loneliness and solitude. In the play, August Strindberg universalizes and objectifies what is essentially autobiographical material. The Gentleman, for example, defends the attitude of resignation that Strindberg himself suffered during a difficult period following his divorce. The Gentleman insists that one can find peace only by isolating oneself from others and their oppressive passions. He resorts to living in and for his happy memories of his former wife and child. He has, in effect, engineered calm weather for himself. Even his relationships with Louise and Karl Fredrik are aloof and detached.

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The “stormy weather” of the title is represented by Gerda, Fischer, and Anne-Charlotte. These new tenants—associated with heat lightning throughout the play—disturb the Gentleman’s tranquillity and upset his plan for a peaceful old age. However, they also serve to resolve some loose ends: The Gentleman’s suppressed emotions about Gerda and Karl Fredrik finally emerge. Rage, it seems, simmers beneath his calm facade; thus, as Louise recognizes, he is not as free as he thinks. Genuine freedom would mean release from the past rather than imprisonment within it.

Ironically, Gerda’s reappearance liberates the Gentleman from his fossilized memories and ghosts. Strindberg leaves the matter of who abandoned whom unclear. Gerda apparently left her husband—and took Anne-Charlotte with her—only after he had in effect abandoned her by “setting her free.” For five years he has remained alone in the apartment where his family once resided. He has converted it into a kind of shrine, which Karl Fredrik and Louise find unhealthy. When he meets Gerda again, he finds her so changed that she almost seems to be a complete stranger....

(The entire section contains 448 words.)

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