Significance Of Memory For Paulina In Death And The Maiden

1045 words - 5 pages

What is memory? Memory is the process of the brain by which it stores past experiences or information and then helps in recalling these experiences or information at a later time. There are three central processes of memory- encoding, storing and retrieval. Encoding is the registration of the information which is received by the brain. A record of this information is then kept in the brain by the process of storing. Finally, through the process of retrieval, this stored memory is then recalled by the brain and this is when an individual remembers something. In Ariel Dorfman’s 1990 play Death and the Maiden, memory serves to be the central theme based on which the rest of the play develops. ...view middle of the document...

However, after her sexual abuse, Paulina gave up on her dreams. This memory has made Paulina what she is today. She is portrayed as someone who is extremely paranoid, skeptical and socially awkward, although she tries to show herself as being normal during gatherings.

‘The memory’ makes Paulina’s life a living hell. She lives every moment worrying about her own safety. At the beginning of the play, upon hearing the sound of a car approaching the house, Paulina proceeds to take out a gun from the sideboard. She uses the gun in order to ensure her safety and to give herself a sense of security. She then proceeds to hide the gun, probably to ensure that Gerardo doesn’t get to know about her insecurity. She is always on the lookout for any possible signs of danger, as if preparing herself to face the same situation which she had experienced under Pinochet’s regime, thinking that the scenario might repeat itself.

The memory has had an impact on many aspects of Paulina’s life. Paulina’s sexual life also went for a toss after being sexually abused. Paulina is now also unable to reach an orgasm. While making love with Gerardo, ‘the memory’ comes back to Paulina and prevents her from reaching an orgasm. Paulina also fakes her orgasms, so that Gerardo doesn’t think that it’s his fault that Paulina is unable to experience sexual pleasure.

The ‘memory’ has also affected Paulina’s taste of music. Paulina’s memory makes it unbearable for her to listen to Schubert’s composition, ‘Death and the Maiden’. Paulina also talks about how she suddenly fell ill once while dining with some “very important people” because her hostess happened to play Schubert.

She holds a need for revenge that goes beyond rational reasoning. She throughly believes that someone needs to be punished for what happened to her, and she is trying her level best to settle score with Doctor Miranda. Paulina has been carrying this burden and mental pressure for several years...

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