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Father


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Fathering: the influence of ideational factors for male fertility behaviour

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A: August Strindberg Pf: 1887, Copenhagen; 1888, Stockholm Pb: 1887 Tr: 1889 G: Trag. in 3 acts; Swedish prose S: Middle-class home in Sweden, 1880s C: 5m, 3fThe Captain recognizes the difficulty of disciplining a cavalryman suspected of seducing the kitchen maid, since it is impossible to prove paternity. The Captain insists on his right to send his daughter Bertha to live in the town, where she may become a teacher and free herself from this female-dominated home. His wife Laura is bitterly opposed to this plan, and resolves to defeat her husband. She tells a newly arrived Doctor that the Captain is losing his mind, and then hints to her husband that Bertha is not his own child. She admits that she has intercepted his mail to prevent his further scientific work and produces a letter in which he speaks of the fear of losing his sanity. Driven into a rage, he flings a lighted paraffin lamp at her – seemingly proving his unbalanced mind. In despair, the Captain mocks the Doctor and his brother-in-law the Pastor for having wives that deceive them. He then threatens to shoot both Bertha and himself. Soothed by his old Nurse, he is slipped into a straitjacket. Cursing women, he dies of an apoplectic fit. Laura reclaims Bertha as her own.

A: August Strindberg Pf: 1887, Copenhagen; 1888, Stockholm Pb: 1887 Tr: 1889 G: Trag. in 3 acts; Swedish prose S: Middle-class home in Sweden, 1880s C: 5m, 3f

The Father was the first major play by Strindberg to be performed and soon earned him an international reputation. Though naturalist in style and in a realistic setting, the generalized nature of the principal characters (referred to in the text as Captain, Doctor, Pastor – significantly, only Laura and Bertha are named) and the intense emotional conflicts point forward to Strindberg's Symbolist writings. Based on Strindberg's disastrous first marriage, the play continues to fascinate for its dissection of sexual conflict.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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August Strindberg (1849—1912) Swedish dramatist and novelist


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