"Love Without Stockings" in a New Version (no spoiler intended)
I belong to the special fans of Alf Sjöberg. But I feel contempt of Strindberg, and most of all of his play "The Father". I think it is no more than a pale imitation of the very funny CLASSICAL FRENCH TRAGEDY "Love Without Stockings" written in the late 18th century by the Norwegian writer Johan Herman Wessel. Both Mads and Johan want to marry Grete. She definitely wants Johan, but he has a great handicap: he has no stockings, a necessary constituent for the wedding ceremony. As a consequence Grete is more inclined to marry Mads. - - However, Johan steals a pair of stockings from Mads and then they are ready to marry. Though at the ceremony Mads turns up and proves that his name is found on the stockings. When exposed as a thief the bridegroom sees no other solution than to take his life by sticking a knife in his heart, after having said some very tragic lines. When Grete has no husband, she cannot live longer, and she says her tragic lines and sticks another knife in her heart. When Mads realizes what disaster he has caused, it is his turn to die. And all other people present will follow them, until the whole scene is full of suicided bodies. - - For 25 years after Wessel's play no theater in Norway or Denmark dared show a tragedy. - - Now, what is it that Strindberg's old Adolf makes so much fuss about? It is, whether or not he is the biological father of Bertha. Strindberg wants us to believe that this is a more rational and praiseworthy motive for murdering Bertha, than Johan's motive for killing himself. - - - In this world there are thousands of stepfathers who take much better care of their stepchildren, than many biological fathers do of their "own" children. I have met many of them in legal courts. - - Two generations ago many people said, "It is just because you have not yet got any biological children that you think that you really love your stepson. Just wait until you get children of your own." But as our world changes there are going to be more and more step parents and stepchildren. If Strindberg's ideas were true, then there would be reason for writing A REAL TRAGEDY about real misery for thousands of children. Since the basic idea of the play is sick, the latter cannot be saved by well-formed lines or excellent direction.
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