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Naturalism in Miss Julie

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Naturalism in Miss Julie


    Writers involved in the naturalist movement believed that actors' lines should be spoken naturally, and that mechanical movements, vocal effects, and irrational gestures should be banished. A return to reality was proposed, with the old theatrical attitudes replaced with effects produced solely by the voice. There was a call to individualise characters, instead of generalising them, to produce characters whose minds and bodies would function as they would in real life. Strindberg's 'Miss Julie' has been said to be an excellent example of this movement, as it involves stress on multiple motivation of action; a departure from the stereotypical depictions of character; and random, illogical dialogue. Strindberg's naturalistic conception of theatre also extends to non-literary aspects of staging such as stage décor, lighting, and make-up.

 

Strindberg avoids the regularity of mechanical question and answer dialogue, instead allowing his dialogue to meander, encouraging themes to be repeated and developed over the course of the play. In the preface to the play, Strindberg explains that he has broken with tradition by avoiding "symmetrical, mathematically constructed dialogue." The sexual tension and hidden aggression in the first scene of 'Miss Julie' could be said to be an example of this, especially while the cook Christine is present with Julie and Jean to inhibit the expression of what they really mean. However, it is noticeable that Strindberg's sub-textual dialogue at the start of the play radically changes once the seduction is completed and there is no more to hide. It is then that the dialogue becomes explicit and ceases to meander. An excessively theatrical sce...


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...e dialogue has entirely ceased to meander realistically, and it is hard to recognise the play itself as a cornerstone of the naturalistic movement." However, Strindberg's preface to 'Miss Julie' has been heralded as the best manifesto of naturalism written, and the techniques that he advocated such as the removal of intervals and orchestras, the use of real props, and a reduction in theatre size, have come to have strong repercussions in modern theatre.

 

Bibliography:

Brandt, George, Modern theories of Drama: a selection of writings on drama and theatre 1850 - 1990, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)

Strindberg, August. Three Plays. England: Penguin Group Penguin Classics, 1958.

Styan, J. L., Modern Drama in Theory and Practice:  Vol .2: symbolism, surrealism and the absurd. - Cambridge, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981)

 

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