In The Ghost Sonata, Strindberg portrays a desperate, fallen world based on illusions and deceptions. In a 1900 apartment block, the inhabitants are, bound together by common guilt and condemned to suffer for their sins. In this world, filled with death and decay, people are not what they seem to be. Under the veneer of respectability lies corruption and Hummel, an old man in a wheelchair, understands how they are all linked by a chain of guilt and betrayals. In fact, he is at the center of all their miseries. He draws the Student (Arkenholz)--an innocent and idealistic young man who possesses supernatural abilities--into this hell, in order to exact revenge on his neighbor, the Colonel. However, it is ultimately the Old Man who is defeated by his own scheming and forced to take his own life. Left with the fragments of distorted lives collapsing around him, Arkenholz realizes that the mortal world is flawed and evil, and that death offers liberation. Written in 1907 and first performed in 1908, The Ghost Play led the way in the development of twentieth-century modernist drama.
The Ghost Sonata guide sections