Miss Julie by August Strindberg's: Introduction

August Strindberg's Miss Julie was first published in 1888 and in 1889 though privately produced in Copenhagen, it was banned in Sweden and in many European countries for its open and frank portrayal of sexuality.

August Strindberg (1849 -1912)

Though banned it started gaining popularity in both Europe and America. The play Miss Julie was taken as an important achievement of modern drama.

Miss Julie belongs to the avant garde in theatre history and most frequently performed drama. The novelty of the play lies both in its psychology and dialogue. The dramatist believes that environment, heredity, time and chance determine the development of any human being. Miss Julie is heavily influenced by naturalism, a literary movement based on the theory of social Darwinism. As per this theory, human being too struggle for the survival and only the fittest can survive. The play Miss Julie centers on the power struggle between Jean and Julie to survive in the nineteenth century society. Strindberg lived in a time in which gender and class roles were becoming more fluid, and the play reflects the conflicts that are inevitable in a society struggling with change.

Miss Julie is the tragedy of an aristocratic woman with a self-destructive personality and an ambivalent feeling toward men. Strindberg defines Miss Julie as a misfit in her society, as a man-hating half-woman. Julie is against the restrictions put over her as a woman and as a member of the upper-class. She vehemently criticizes the class and gender conventions and demands the proper treatment of women of the upper class. Her such attitudes and opinions lead her to the downfall and ultimately into suicide. Unlike Nora (A Doll's House) she has no control over herself. She becomes the one who is suppressed and subjugated.

Miss Julie is a drama of paradoxes and reversals. It is about the breakdown of the social order. On Midsummer’s Eve, Miss Julie, the lady of the house, refuses to go with father and would love to dance with the servant. Jean, her servant, is more concerned about her property and the social class. They have a sexual relationship. Julie and Jean then reverse roles. He drinks wine, she prefers beer; he is concerned about his reputation, she is negligent and reckless; he dreams of climbing, she dreams of falling.