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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dream reality : August Strindberg's development of the dream form in The Ghost Sonata Palm, Per Magnus

Abstract

The following thesis is an examination into August Strindberg's mode of dramatic expression following his so-called "naturalistic" phase. This study will focus on Strindberg's means of expressing his subjective vision of the world around him as it is developed in one of his last plays, The Ghost Sonata,(1907). First, we will view the failure of naturalism as it applies to Strindberg's dramatic objectives; for naturalism as prescribed by Zola proved to be a too restrictive form of poetic expression, limiting the artist to the presentation of objectively verifiable external realism. Strindberg sought to explore the reality of the internal world, or life as it affects the very soul of the dramatist. This he accomplished through the creation of the dramatic dream form where visions and hallucinations merge with past and present objective events into a world of psychological reality. The form and techniques for creating such hallucinatory visions of reality are not new, but a fusion of these into a single dramatic work has been of seminal influence in 20th century drama. Second, we will turn to Strindberg's creative process which bears a remarkable similarity to Freud's explication of the nature of the "dream-work" in Traumdeutung. Furthermore, the dream form of The Ghost Sonata employs the various techniques that comprise the various stages of the dream-work. But these techniques are parallel to certain literary developments of which Strindberg was aware and consequently on which he molded his work. This becomes the basis for the third area of examination which covers the naturalistic, symbolistic and surrealistic techniques as they are applied to the structure of The Ghost Sonata. The conclusion of this examination demonstrates Strindberg's perfect fusion of these previously established literary techniques into the dream-form. Even though none of the separate entities can be attributed to Strindberg’s creative innovations; the use, adaption, expansion and fusion of these techniques into the dream-form serve admirably as a projection of the artist's personal vision of life into dramatic form.

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