One-Act Play: Facing Death by Johan August Strindberg Summary Class 12 English
About the Author:
Johan August Strindberg (1849–1912) was a Swedish writer, playwright, and painter. Ranked among Sweden’s most important authors, his works fall into two major literary movements, Naturalism and Expressionism. His theatre tries to create a perfect illusion of reality through detailed sets, an unpoetic literary style that reflects the way real people speak, and a style of acting that tries to recreate reality. Miss Julie (1888), Facing Death (1892), A Dream Play (1902), and The Ghost Sonata (1907) are some of his notable plays. In Facing Death, Strindberg dramatizes a heroic sacrifice made by a bankrupt man for the sake of his daughters.
1. Monsieur Durand
Monsieur Durand is the main character of the play who is a former railroad employee, widower and pensioner. He has been portrayed as a financially ruined individual. Mr Durand spends his life living with his three daughters.
Adèle, Annette and Thérèse are the daughters of Monsieur Durand.
Antonio is an Italian army lieutenant who is the only paying guest at their lodge.
Pierre is the work boy of the Durand family.
Facing Death, a one-act play by August Strindberg tells the story of Monsieur Durand, a former railroad worker and widower in financial ruin. Durand has three daughters, Adèle, Annette, and Thérèse, who have no future prospects. Despite his efforts to provide for his children, including renting out his home to lodgers, he has been received with ridicule and derision. Monsieur Durand, on the other hand, has a strategy to secure his daughters’ financial prospects, even if it means facing his own death. A classic example of dramatic naturalism in Europe. The story of Facing Death is about a father’s love for his children, even if it means sacrificing everything. Strindberg dramatizes a heroic sacrifice made by a bankrupt father for the sake of his daughters in Facing Death.
Monsieur Durand, a former railroad employee, widower, and pensioner, is the primary character in this play. In this drama, he is portrayed as a financially ruined individual. Durand lives with his three daughters, Adele (27 years), Annette (24 years), and Therese (24 years). The relationship between the father and his three daughters is fragile. They’re absolutely out of money. For the past ten years, they have been in a financial crisis. For the rest of their lives, they have converted their home into a lodge. Adele works in the kitchen, while Durand does a variety of other tasks such as serving visitors, cleaning, delivering and bringing meals, and so on.
Mr Durand’s two daughters only attempt to attract the attention of others in the lodge. Except for playing, singing, and flirting with customers, they don’t help with any other work at the lodge. For years, the Durand family has lived and spent their lives borrowing money from others. The family is experiencing financial difficulties. Durand is trying to figure out how to provide for his three kids after their mother’s death, with expenses piling up. Mr. Durand has various expenses to pay. He has to pay everyone, including the baker, butcher, and grocer. When Pierre, their work boy, goes to get bread, he returns empty-handed. He instead brings only unpaid bills. Durand purchases candles to commemorate the death anniversary of his late son, René, who died when he was a child. He still adores and misses him.
Durand’s lone paying guest at their lodge is Antonio (an Italian army lieutenant). Durand informs Antonio that they can no longer house him owing to poverty and a lack of supplies. Durand denies Antonio’s offer to pay in advance and stay for another month. He further claims that the previous spring he had no visitors for three months before an American family came to help him. Therese flirts with guest Antonio and they kiss as Durand goes for a coffee break. When Durand arrives at the door, he is shocked to see them kissing. He aggressively drives Antonio away from his house, enraged. He also discards the money he was given. Therese and Annette are dissatisfied with their father’s behaviour. They want the visitor (Antonio) to be present. Both girls are disrespectful to their father. They even took his glass of milk because he couldn’t bring bread. They force him to drink simply a glass of water. Therese steals the match as he attempts to light his bribery pipe.
Mr Durand has been hungry for a long time and also eats rats’ feed. He survives, though, because it is not harmful. His three daughters all accuse him of destroying the house’s state. They claim that if mother had still been alive, the house would not have been ruined. When their mother was alive, she did not get along with their father Durand. The daughters appear to side with the mother and only blame the father. In reality, their mother used to waste money by playing the lottery. She was scolded the majority of the time. She was threatened with becoming a prostitute.
When the wind blows, Mr Durand instructs his daughters to extinguish the stove fire and correctly handle the insurance documents. He also claims that he will deliver insurance money for them. The daughters are now behaving properly around him. Seeing Therese’s dissatisfaction, he agrees to let her marry Lieutenant Antonio if he sincerely loves her. When she hears this, Therese is thrilled and returns the match to him. He contacts his eldest daughter Adele and inquires about the availability of candles. He instructs Adele to hide documents from a fire insurance policy and begins to reveal the things he has held hidden within his heart. He was born in the country of France. Even before the age of recruitment, he had fallen in love with a woman. They came to Switzerland and gained Swiss citizenship in order to marry. During the final conflict, he served in the Swiss Army, fighting against the French army. It indicates the armed himself against his own country. To conceal his guilt, he claims to have been born in Switzerland.
He also claims that he lost the ancestral and maternal properties as a result of his mother’s carelessness and unwise ventures. They had used up all of their inheritance in this manner. Durand’s children were taught to dislike their father Durand while his wife was still alive. She was the one who made them obey her. She blamed her husband the majority of the time and was successful in turning her children against their father. Mr Durand remained silent for the rest of his life after her death because he didn’t want his daughters to doubt their mother’s decency.
Durand advises Adele to look after her sisters like a mother. He proposes that Annette, the youngest daughter, obtain a teacher’s job so that she may be in excellent company and maintain track of her insurance paperwork. He takes the poison from the glass at the end, and the home is shown burning. Durand set the home on fire and poisoned himself in order for his children to get 5000 francs in fire insurance money.