The Ghost Sonata

The Ghost Sonata Literary Elements


Drama: Chamber Play


English, translated from the Swedish

Setting and Context

The Colonel's Home, inside and the street in front of the house, Sweden, 1908

Narrator and Point of View

Tone and Mood

Serious, Dramatic, Haunting, Ominous, Supernatural

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist is The Student. Antagonist is The Old Man.

Major Conflict

The Student desires to be part of the higher-class family of The Colonel, but has no way in. The Old Man helps him to gain access to the home, but at a price.


Inside the Colonel's home, the Old Man reveals his plan to dominate the family and gain access to his wealth. Instead, the Mummy reveals his secrets and sends him to his death.


The Old Man's evil is foreshadowed by how his servants talk about him and his reputation.



Allusions to Buddhism, Christianity, Wagner, Arnold Brocklin's painting.


Arnold Bocklin's painting, Isle of the Dead, as well as very detailed stage directions about the visual world of the play.


The Student desires to be part of the Colonel's family, but paradoxically once he is welcomed into the home it is a horrible and scary place. The Hyacinth Room is beautiful, but it hides decay and death.


The death of the Old Man parallels the death of the Girl, as both are covered by a death screen.


The characters in the play become the personification of death. We watch as the Old Man and the Girl both die before our eyes, and the Mummy is entombed for the sins of the family.

Use of Dramatic Devices

It is a classic example of a chamber play.