Symbolism in Strindberg's Miss Julie

The major symbol in Miss Julie is Midsummer Eve. This symbol puts forward the sober respectability of the feast blended with the pagan revelry of the Eve. The action of Miss Julie occurs on Midsummer Eve. On the Midsummer Eve a pagan dance was performed.

August Strindberg (1849 -1912)

This festival had a custom of decorating with birch branches in leaf, to the folk belief that if unmarried girls collect nine midsummer flowers and sleep with them under their pillows they will dream of their future husbands. The birch twigs in the leaf which decorate scene are traditional Swedish Midsummer accoutrements and symbolize all kinds of good things such as life, joy, celebration and the life force.

The flower is another important symbol Strindberg used in the play. It signifies first emotions of love. The dog is third symbol. The plight of a dog named Diana help to foreshadow the plight of Julie. Serena is Julie's pet dog. Beheading of Serena symbolizes the imminent suicidal contemplation of Julie.

Another symbolic pattern is central to the managing of the play and runs through all of Strindberg's works, particularly those concerned with a struggle between the sexes or between classes: rising and falling. As Jean's star rises, Julie's falls. The pattern is first brought out in the recurring dreams, Julie and Jean relate to each other.

Julie's desire to fall is exemplified by the following utterance of her.

"I've climbed a pillar and am sitting on top of it, and I see no way of getting down. I get dizzy when I look down, and I must get down, but I don't have the courage to throw myself down; I can't stay where I am and I yearn to fall, but I don't fall, and still I will have no peace until I come down no rest until I come down, down to the ground, and were I to come down to the ground, I'd want to go down into the earth"

And Jean's Utterance:

"I'm lying under a tall tree in a dark forest. I want to climb up, up to the top, to look out over the bright landscape where the sun shines, to rob the bird's nest up there, where the golden eggs lie. And I climb and climb, but the trunk is so thick and so smooth, and it's such a long way to the first branch I but I know that if only I reach the first branch I'll get to the top as if on a ladder. I have not reached it yet, but I will reach it"

Apart from these major symbols there are other minor symbolic signs. They are the ringing bells, the boots, Jean's livery and the speaking tube. These minor signs symbolically suggest hypnotic authority of the count.