Vonnegut versus Strindberg

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Kurt Vonnegut is one of the preeminent writers of the later half of the twentieth century. His works are all windows to his mind, a literary psychoanalysis. The play “Miss Julie”, by August Strindberg, has two subordinates, a daughter and a servant, who are subject to eachother’s authority. Julie is Jeans superior in terms of class, jean is julies superior in terms of morality, because Jean is a man and Julie is a “degenerate” woman. These class differences structure most of both the plays actions. The plays are conservative in sentiment. They keep these superior and inferior positions in place and ultimately submits both characters to the total authority of the count. An uncountable number of power reversals occurring along class and gender lines throughout the plays. The difference between Jean and Julie is central to their attraction. Whereas Julie expresses a desire to fall from her social position, Jean expresses an idle desire to climb up from his social position. Jean hopes to better his social status by sleeping with Julie, when he discovers that she is penniless, he abandons his plans. By sleeping with Jean, Julie degrades herself and places herself beneath Jeans level. The power shifts again, however, when Julie reasserts her superior class, mocking Jean’s name and family line. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Who am I This Time,” Harry Nash is a shy hardware store employee. But whenever he takes a part in a local amateur theatre production, he becomes the part completely. Helene is new in town, a lonely internant telephone company employee. On a whim, she auditions for and gets the part of Miss Julie. Before anyone realizes the problem, she falls madly in love with Jean not knowing what the real man is like. In both plays the people fall for each other, not knowing who they are really falling in love with.

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