Summary of Strindberg's Miss Julie

Miss Julie the play opens in the kitchen on the eve of Midsummer. While Christine is cooking, Jean, a valet, enters saying he danced with Miss Julie. He further says that she is wild as her engagement is broken because of her indecent treatment to her fiancé.

August Strindberg (1849 -1912)

Meanwhile, Miss Julie appears in the kitchen and invites Jean to dance with her at the party. He at first hesitates and warns her against the dangers of local gossips and her reputation. But, later he goes with her to the party.

Jean and Julie return from the party and they flirt more. Christine falls asleep next to the stove. Julie orders Jean to kneel and kiss her foot. Miss Julie tells Jean about her dream that she is "climbing down" from her social position. On the contrary, Jean has dreamed climbing the social status. Jean starts making up a story to influence Miss Julie. He narrated that he grew up on a wasteland. The Count's lovely garden was visible from his window. One day while weeding the onion beds, Jean saw a "Turkish pavilion" that is, an outhouse. He was so attracted by its beauty that he entered it, but soon heard someone is coming. While running from there he saw Miss Julie. Jean watched Julie walk among the roses and fell in love with her at first sight. The following Sunday, he went to church, determined to see Miss Julie once more.

Julie is impressed by his story and asks Jean to take her out to the lake. Suddenly they hear guests approaching. Jean tells her that they should flee to his room. In his room they fall prey of lust and have sexual contact. Julie and Jean return to the kitchen. He signals to the rumor-mongering crowd and declares it is impossible to stay at the hall. He tells her his dreams of traveling to northern Italy and setting up a hotel. Julie then begs Jean to declare his love. Rudely, Jean scolds her to behave coolly, as if nothing has happened. Jean demands some financial help from Julie but when she says she does not have a single penny, he neglects her. Julie becomes hysterical and wonders how she can live with everyone cheating her back. Jean is insensitive and calls her a whore and further reveals that his story of the rose terrace was a lie.

Jean proposes that they flee together. Julie tells him about her past life. Julie's mother brought the estate to ruin, but when Julie's father finally took control over the situation, her mother fell ill. A mysterious fire, then burned down the estate. Julie's mother suggested to Julie's father that he should borrow money from a friend of hers to rebuild the farm. Jean says that Julie's mother sets the fire, and the friend was her lover. Julie obviously took her mother's side and grew up to hate men as her mother did. Jean tells her she is sick. Julie begs him to tell her what to do. Terrified of the consequences with the Count, Jean commands her to flee. She exits to prepare for her departure.

When Julie is dressing for the departure, Suddenly Jean and Christine hear sounds upstairs: the Count has come back. Christine exits. Julie appears with a small bird cage. She begs Jean to join her. He agrees, but insists that she must leave the canary behind, offering to kill it. Jean beheads the bird on a chopping block. Shattered Julie screams "Kill me too!" Julie approaches the chopping block, mesmerized. She exclaims that she wants to see Jean's head on a chopping block and his entire sex swimming in blood. She pledges to stay, to wait for her father and confess everything.

Christine enters, and Julie begs her for help but Christine refuses. Desperate, Julie asks Jean what he would do if in her place. The bell rings twice; it is the Count. Terrified, Miss Julie begs Jean to help her, saying she will obey him as a dog would if he helps save her father from disgrace.

Jean is powerless by the sound of the Count's voice. Julie tells him to pretend that he is the Count, and to hypnotize her. Jean whispers the fatal instructions in her ear. The bell rings twice, and Jean commands Julie to her death. She walks out the door.