Man-woman Relationship in Miss Julie

Miss Julie explores a complex man-woman relationship, along with gender and class lines. It is the woman who turns out to be defeated and degenerated. It is the values of the patriarchy that have given women a subordinate position in the imbalanced relationship.

August Strindberg (1849 -1912)

Miss Julie is degenerated after having physical contact because she is a woman and the man is all right. It is the fear of her father's arrival that makes her restless and frantic. Though rebellious to some extent their lives are manipulated by males and the male authority frightens them. The relation between Julie and the count is, at a literal level, the relation between father and daughter. Having seen Julie in a fearful state at the signal of her father's arrival, it can be concluded that she was subject to the authority of the count.

Miss Julie falls morally after she sleeps with Jean. Since she is a woman, she is the victim of this relation. The male uses her and is free and safe. It is she who is degenerate not him. It shows the functioning of patriarchy. She is living with constant fear of her father who represents the male authority. He is the father figure and his presence and impending arrival is a source of constant fear and humiliation of Miss Julie. Though Miss Julie tries to give orders to Jean her orders don't work because she is a fallen woman now. The fact that she is a woman makes her a defeated person. Even though Jean has badly used her, she is not in a position to challenge him openly because, in the eyes of the patriarchal society she is a sinner not the man.

Jean is a man capable of the privilege of the aristocracy. But his actuality has deterred him from accomplishing this capability. He is a slave. But his ambition and mentality are not like that of a slave. He is gifted with the aristocratic bent of mind. But he is a valet at physical level. He is prompt at taking advantage of any favorable situation. By the same token, he is quick at rejecting what is no longer advantageous to him. Such a man entered into a relation with a woman who is disgusted with the man. The woman with whom Jean is the relationship of self-fulfillment. There is no genuine love between her and Jean because their relationship is guided by sex and money. Because their relationship is the relationship of self-fulfillment, this relationship is bound to turn into the relationship of domination, of power. That is why man- woman relationship in Miss Julie is tainted with conflict and unrest, instability and violent reversal.

The relation between Christine and Jean does not invite spotlight here. Perhaps they can be close companion as both of them come from the same background. Only their relationship is free from the problem of domination. Jean feels ashamed in front of Christine when the issue of the dialogue between Jean and Julie arises. Christine is a hypocrite. She grows Jealous of the growing intimacy between Jean and Julie. Jean also sexually exploits Christine. Thus the man-woman relationship is lopsided and the women are the underdogs manipulated and used by males.