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The Theme Of Superiority Essay

1516 words - 6 pages

How do the authors, Strindberg and Ibsen, portray the theme of superiority in “Miss Julie” and “A Doll’s House”.

In both “Miss Julie” and “A Doll’s House”, August Strindberg (1888), and Henrik Ibsen (1879) present the theme of superiority in various ways. Superiority can be seen from many sides, Social superiority, the superiority of men over women and at different points the superiority of women over men feature in both plays. At the time both plays were written, the naturalistic movement was taking place and one of the four principles suggested that “human beings have no free will, or very little of it, because hereditary and environment are so powerful in determining the course of human action”. This essay will look at the ways in which Strindberg and Ibsen present superiority in both plays. The environment is one of the most powerful tools; in addition to the main characters in order to assist both playwrights to portray the theme of superiority.

A common assumption is that men are superior to women. Stronger, smarter, less emotional but that does not mean that the statement is true. Furthermore both playwrights suggest this superiority by presenting how the male protagonists control the female characters. This theory, of men superior to women, is acutely illustrated by Jean’s performance towards the end of the play when he is asked by Miss Julie to order her. “I can’t repent, can’t run away, can’t stat, can’t live – can’t die. Help me! Order me, and I’ll obey you like a dog. Do me this last service” . Miss Julie is clearly wishing for Jean to tell her what to do because she does not know how to be independent. She is a very unsecure woman that tends to feel safer having a man by her side, indicating her exactly what to do. As the play develops, the more she behaves as she is that naïve towards Jean; Jean feels more superior and treats her with disrespect.

Jean also feels superior to Miss Julie in the sexual side. He is the aristocrat because of his masculine strength, more developed senses and the ability that he has to take the initiative. Natalie Angier wrote that: “Men cannot help themselves; they are always hungry for sex, bodies, novelty, nobility and youth” . This quote represents Jean exactly the way he is. Miss Julie is a young and beautiful woman in her early twenties, she corresponds to the noble class and that demonstrates Jean’s interest in her for the sake that he has always dreamt in having his own hotel and the only way to achieve his dreams is through Miss Julie’s money. We can also see Jean´s disrespectfulness towards Miss Julie with his constant comments on her “sick” behaviour. Strindberg by portraying Miss Julie as hysteric and constantly drawn to men defined her as ill because she refused to accept her sexual desires. The 19th Century Hysteria was considered to be exactly that; a woman who failed to accept her sexual desires.

In “A Dolls House” the same ideas of men being superior to women are also...

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