Drama of the Western World
Original Intent: Strindberg’s View of Authority and Power in Miss Julie
“Society, being codified by man, decrees that woman is inferior.”
[pic] Simone de Beauvoir
Strindberg states, in his preface, that in his masochistic view of the world, men are inherently superior to women. Such thoughts are still tolerated today, over a hundred years later; one look at the question of feminism that wracks our society with conflict is our point in case. Strindberg’s preface is necessary as a lens through which to view the play because, while it might be a slanted view, it also offers a lens to his world view, and the spirit in which he originally wrote the play. Through his own preface, we come to understand Strindberg, and through that understanding, the play becomes correspondingly clearer. Strindberg states, in his preface, that a man is always superior to a woman, no matter what his actions are. Because of his offhand, heinous comment, we come to grasp that Strindberg sets up Jean as superior to Miss Julie, in spite of class, background, family, or behavior, simply because he is male. Miss Julie is not only member of a higher socioeconomic class than Jean, but also has the benefit of a better upbringing and education through her father’s status. Jean is, by contrast, merely a servant, and in a time with little intergenerational mobility, there seems little hope that he can improve his station in life. Strindberg’s view of the play, that male superiority inevitably exerts itself, is but one view. Miss Julie’s plight is a downward spiraling trend towards destruction, and her troubles are pitiable. Does that necessarily imply that females are inferior to males? Unlikely. Strindberg implies that, if the situation was reversed and Jean was the upper-class member, and Miss Julie the lower, not only would Jean not fall under Miss Julie’s sway, but he would not end up committing suicide, either. As modern...