Gender Issues in August Strindberg's Miss Julie

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August Strindberg was undoubtedly a contemporary writer, but where gender issues were concerned, he preferred to support the past. His work reflected the cultural and societal environment around him in 1887; this suggests themes throughout Miss Julie, such as gender inequality and women’s’ rights, were inflicted by his own struggle between classes and promiscuous relationships with women. It becomes apparent in the play that Miss Julie, a self-portrait of Strindberg, typifies Strindberg’s creative energy and the close relationship between his writing and lifestyle. Miss Julie’s downfall can be associated with many aspects of her life, ranging from the masculine influence in her life, to her degenerated brain, thus making her a damaged, frail woman. Her on-going battle of the sexes and gender inequality are liable for her inevitable fate. From the beginning of ‘Miss Julie’ it becomes evident that there is a sexualised struggle between the sexes to gain power. However, Strindberg was a keen naturalist, thus the movement for women’s emancipation scared and angered him, suggesting to the audience that the battle of the sexes is founded by both a battle of class, women’s rights and feminism. ‘Now what you do is: kiss my shoe’ enlightens the audience to the hypnotic atmosphere of desire in the play. Interestingly, ‘kiss’ and ‘shoe’ are juxtapositions are one another; whilst ‘kiss’ proposes a sensual act and is symbolic for the abuse of power, ‘shoe’ could be used as an attempt to lower Jean’s class, illustrating a simultaneous sense of authority and desire, hence the different battles in place. The dominance in place could be a direct result from first-wave feminism, where women defended their sex, while some also campaigned for sexua... ... middle of paper ... ...ubordinate to Jean, and the battle of sexes provides Jean with a more dominant characteristic. Finally, throughout the play, gender inequality and the battle of sexes are explored to the degree that these were the responsible factors for Miss Julie’s naturalistic fate, even though the battle of classes is a recurring theme throughout the play. Leading up to Miss Julie’s downfall, Strindberg successfully manages to avoid the topic of suicide ‘it’s terrible, but there’s no other way. Go’ but instead subtly suggests it through Jeans subliminal messages. Miss Julie was first entitled ‘The First Naturalistic Tragedy’ providing evidence that Miss Julie’s fate was a direct result of the environment around her: a typical anti-feminist zone full of gender inequality. Miss Julie goes well beyond the naturalistic struggle between the sexes that Strindberg wanted to portray.

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