The Chamber Plays - August Strindberg

The four Chamber Plays are “Storm Weather,” “The Burned House,” “The Ghost Sonata,” and “The Pelican”.  According to the introduction, they supposedly all deal with death.


                The statement is slightly misleading.


                The Chamber Plays have more to do with returns that bring change.   For the most part, the women characters do not come across too well – it is easy to see why Strindberg’s former wife was upset by “Storm Weather,” but then again neither do the men.  Give me the former wife in “Storm Weather” over the father who doesn’t care any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.  If anything, Strindberg as a damaged view of all humanity.


                Yet, it is a realistic view of the how most of humanity is damaged.


                Of the plays, so the introduction tells me, “The Ghost Sonata,” a magic realist play that makes one think of Dark Shadows minus the traditional vampires.  After all, one or two characters have something vampire about them.  Like “The Pelican”, “Sonata” tackles also the question of sleeping though life, though the outcome to that question is a bit different.


                For the most, the women seem to fall into the virgin/whore dichotomy, even with the virgins being too good to last in the word.  Even those women who are quiet and seemingly too insane (such as Mummy in Ghost Sonata, and think of both definitions of that word) also fit this choice.  Yet, the women are also the characters who seem most aware of the roles that humanity plays. 


                The most powerful of the plays is “The Pelican,” no doubt because there is a level of reality in the play that in some ways the others lack.