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A Dream Play – August Strindberg

A Dream Play August Strindberg

A Dream Play August Strindberg

August Strindberg

‘A Dream Play’ is a play written by the Swedish playwright August Strindberg in 1901. The play is well-known for its association to Surrealism as well as Expressionism.

Plot

The plot has been presented in a dream like sequence. The protagonist of the play is Isobella. She is a daughter of Indra, the Vedic god. The play shows how she descended to Earth in the form of a beautiful woman to witness the problems faced by the human beings. She desires to know the reasons for which the human beings are generally dissatisfied. The plot is like a medley of episodes forming part of her journey. In her effort to understand human life, she meets about 40 characters to understand the various aspects of human life. Many of these characters have very clear symbolic value. The four deans, for instance, represent Theology, Philosophy, Medicine and Law, respectively. So, there also are elements of morality plays in this play.

A Dream Play August Strindberg

A Dream Play August Strindberg

Her observations make her aware about various sufferings faced by human beings. Initially, she is hopeful that love could conquer the problems. But, she has to experiences the pain of family life, poverty, failure of attempts for reform and so on. The awareness of pain makes her conclude that human beings deserve to be pitied. She analyzes the world as a place of never-ending conflicts and contradictions. Her return to the Heaven has been presented like the act of getting awakened from a dream which makes the entire play a sort of sequence of dream like events.

Interpretations

The scenes in the play shift freely in terms of time and space. For instance, the protagonist and the scene shift to the lawyer’s office straight from the back door of a theatre where the A Dream Play - PerformanceOfficer has been waiting for his beloved. After a while, the scene shifts back to where the officer is still waiting for the lady. On the one hand, this tendency matches the concept of a dream sequence since dreams do not follow the limits of time and space. On the other hand, it also resembles the concept of ‘stream of consciousness technique’ which has been used so commonly in modern novels. The question about the existence of time and space has even been asked directly in the play.

The title of the play points directly to the style followed in it. The general environment and tendencies of a dream have been used present some events in a unique way. The characters and events display regular transformation as could be possible only in a dream. So, despite that the incidents in the play are not utterly dislocated from real life, the way of their presentation makes the play ‘a dream play’.

Further Study

August Strindberg

A Dream Play

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