Struggle for Dominance in Miss Julie

To show the struggle for dominance is the prime purpose of Strindberg in Miss Julie. Jean struggles tactfully to assert dominance over Miss Julie as he knows about her vulnerabilities. At first, Jean behaved like a servant, when he knows Miss Julie is making an initial advance towards him.

August Strindberg (1849 -1912)

When he came to understand the fact that she is prone to a fit of hysteria he made a mental note to assert dominance over her. To establish a sort of dominance over her, Jean began to go where she wanted him to take, he did what she advised him to do. He even pretended to understand her. Gradually he gave every impression of being her lover. To secure his dominance over Miss Julie, Jean fabricated a tale of Turkish pavilion. In an attempt to save her honor, Jean took her to his room so that the dancers in the pagan festival could not see her. To assert final dominance over her, Jean pushed Julie to enter into loveless sexual intercourse with him. By retaining dominance over her Jean actually wanted to reduce her to the same level and the same class from which he wanted to rise. To rise from this present level of lowliness, Jean felt it is necessary to reduce to the level of lowliness. He wanted to reduce Julie to the level of inferiority. Having reduced her to the level of his class, Jean found it easy to manipulate her. After having sex with her, Jean told Julie about his plan to establish a hotel elsewhere in a foreign country. He elaborated his plan in detail. He fantasized to buy count hood in Rumania after earning piles of money by running a hotel in Italy. He also added that it is necessary for Julie to give her helping hand in the accomplishment of his dream. To Jean, this helping hand was money, which was essential in the actualization of his dream. But Julie stated that she does not have money of her own. Jean replied, "It is your father money, which I want you to bring". In response Julie said “I can't bring his money because it is impossible for her to do so". Jean knew how helpless and penniless Julie is. From this moment Jean rejected Julie. Julie felt angry formidably over this pang of rejection. In her mood of formidable anger Julie gave utterance to the following lines.

"Oh, I'd love to see the whole of your sex swimming in a sea of blood just like that. I think I could drink out of your skull .... You think I loved you because my womb hungered for your seed, bear your child and take your name!  Come to think of it, what is your name anyway? I've never heard your last name. You probably don't even have one. I'd be Mrs. Doorkeeper or Madame Floors weeper. Your dog with my name on your collar- your lackey with my initials on your buttons!"

So far we comprehended the clever way by virtue of which emptied to establish dominance over Miss Julie. Now let’s how Miss Julie too was doing right from the moment of his entry into a relationship with her father's valet. According to Strindberg Miss Julie was driven to wreak revenge on herself. She was a man-hating half-woman. Without giving torture to others she could not feel contented. In an attempt to give torture to a man in a sadistic way, Julie used to incur masochistic punishment to herself. According to Strindberg, Julie was psychologically driven by an impulse to fall. In an attempt to fall Julie had to choose a much lower man Jean. Had she chose a man from upper class she might not have fulfilled her wish to fall. This drive to fall developed in Julie when Julie endeavored to be like a man. Being a woman she was instructed how to become a man. In this process of masculine training, she failed to become like a man. To our surprise, she becomes a half-woman. In the words of the playwright Julie became a monster, she became a degenerate woman, she became hysterical.

To trace the theme of the struggle for dominance we have to take into account the separate lines of the struggle made by Jean and Julie. Jean's struggle is to climb the social ladder, whereas Julie's struggle is to fall from the top rung of the social ladder.