Imprisonment in “Miss Julie” by August Strindberg
August Strindberg was a well-known Swedish playwright, novelist and essayist whom career lasted around 4 decades. He wrote over 60 plays and works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis and politics. In the play “Miss Julie”, written in 1880, the playwright August Strindberg explored the theory of naturalism. The play is about loveand lust, the differences between classes and the fight between genders back in the 19th century as it is set on a midsummer night of 1874. “Miss Julie”, like other plays of Strindberg, is based on his personal experiences as the plot reflects the story of his family, as far as he can recall from when he was a child. Several forms of imprisonment against the two main characters are introduced inthis play. “Miss Julie” is about a woman in her mid 20’s, the woman from the title, who falls in love with her servant, Jean but the difference between social classes creates a barrier between them. In this case the roles are inverted and Miss Julie is representing Strindberg’s father who fell in love with his servant, the writer’s mother in real life. The different forms of imprisonment presentedin this play are gender, economic and social.
The social classes are extremely marked by the difference between rights and privileges people from each class receive. The romance between a poor and a rich person is not seen as something right, this allows judgements and critics from the society around them to occur. This judgement is shown in the page 35 of this novel, when Christine tells Jean,“…But you don’t want to work for people who lower themselves, do you? Eh? You lower yourself by it, that’s my opinion”. Christine thinks Miss Julie is lowering herself by sleeping with Jean because it is clear they don’t belong to the same social class and even worst, Miss Julie should not be seen in a relationship as intimate as it was with one of her servants. As well as Miss Julie, Jean islowering himself because he knows they are not the same, yet he still wants to get involved with someone he doesn’t correspond to. From Christine’s point of view, what Jean is doing looks like he is pretending to be someone he is not and trying to be part of a social group where he is not necessarily welcome. By adding ‘that’s my opinion’ at the end of this dialogue, Strindberg demonstrates how thereis a difference in point of view, not only between classes but also among people who belong to the same class. To support this argument, at the end of the page Christine brings out, “Oh, you’re all right in your way, but there’s a difference between people and people”. In page 35 before Christine expresses her opinion, she also tells Jean “…I don’t want to stay any longer in a house where peoplecan’t respect their employers.” She explains she isn’t jealous about Miss Julie but she finds it ‘disgusting’ that she would be willing to sleep with a man from a lower class. Even though Christine is not jealous of Miss Julie, she sees this as an act of disrespect towards Jean because Christine thinks Miss Julie would never have anything serious with Jean and regardless of this she still had asexual encounter with Jean.
The second type of imprisonment present in the play is of gender. Genders play an important part in “Miss Julie” because the jobs of men and women were strictly defined by the society and it was hard to go against it. “Unfortunately the law doesn’t demand any penalty from a woman who seduces a man” –Jean, page 31. This quote manifests how women have always been moreprotected by the government and society than men. If women are more protected than men it is obvious there will be a rivalry between the sexes and the roles they play because women would want to feel superior to men just to prove they don’t need the protection given to them.
In page 37, Miss Julie says to Jean “Enough to start with! Come with me! I can’t go alone, not today…” she can’t go alone...
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