The Ghost Sonata

The Ghost Sonata Quotes and Analysis

“You poor little child, child of this world of illusion, guilt, suffering, and death, this world of endless change, disappointment, and pain. May the Lord of Heaven be merciful to you on your journey.”

The Student

The Student says this at the very end of the play after the Girl dies. He prays for redemption for the poor girl, who has endured a troubled and fraught home life in her family's house.

“What do you want from me?”

The Student

The Student says this to the Old Man after the Old Man says that his father owes him money. The Student is skeptical of the mysterious old man, whom he knows to have a compromised morality.

“You can trust him—to do anything."


Johansson says this to the Student, when they privately discuss the Old Man's character. He suggests that The Old Man is willing to do anything to get what he wants, foreshadowing the Old Man's ruthlessness and bottomless greed.

"Perhaps you made him ungrateful by poisoning your help with unnecessary humiliation."

The Student

When he first makes the Old Man's acquaintance, the Student stands up for the legacy of his father, whom the Old Man ruined financially. The Old Man tries to convince the Student that he is the one who was mistreated, but the Student knows better, suggesting that perhaps his father was rude to the Old Man because of how poorly the Old Man treated him.

"He is always thick with the police. He uses them, gets them involved in his interests, holds them with false promises and expectations, while all the time he's pumping them. You'll see that before the day is over he'll be received in the Round Room."


In their private discussion of the Old Man, Johansson tells the Student that one of the ways that the Old Man always gets what he wants is by endearing himself to people in positions of power, such as policemen.

"She boils the nourishment out of the meat and gives us the fibre and water, while she drinks the stock herself. And when there's a roast, she first boils out the marrow, eats the gravy and drinks the juices herself. Everything she touches loses its savor. It's as if she sucked with her eyes. We get the grounds when she has drunk the coffee. She drinks the wine and fills the bottles up with water."

The Girl

In the Hyacinth Room, in the third scene, the Girl explains to the Student that the family's cook is, like the Old Man, a vampiric entity. The cook takes all of the nourishment out of their food, and leaves her masters without anything nutritive to eat.

"We are miserable human beings, that we know. We have erred and we have sinned, we like all the rest. We are not what we seem, because at bottom we are better than ourselves, since we detest our sins."

The Mummy

When the Old Man threatens everyone at dinner in the Round Room, the Mummy speaks up in their defense. She delivers these lines to show that she knows they are all sinners and have committed misdeeds in their lives, but suggests that this does not make them deserving of the Old Man's harsh judgment.

"They look like ghosts. And they've kept this up for twenty years, always the same people saying the same things or saying nothing at all for fear of being found out."


Bengtsson and Johansson discuss the dinner that will be taking place in the Round Room that evening. Johansson is less familiar with it, so Bengtsson explains what happens at the dinners, describing a rather tense and mysterious affair.

"It is true. You are right. I am not a nobleman."

The Colonel

The Old Man convinces the Colonel that he is not actually a nobleman, by presenting him with a paper that suggests as much. Rather that resisting heartily, the Colonel accepts the Old Man's declaration as facts, and strips himself of his own title.

"It is in asylums that people say everything they think."

The Girl

Towards the end of the play, the Girl says this to the Student, after he asks if she wants to know what he is thinking about her at the moment. She suggests that if everyone said what they think all the time, they would be considered mad, that discretion is a sign of sanity.