1finallongpaper - Hausheer Kristin Hausheer HR ENG 202 Dr....

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Hausheer Kristin Hausheer HR ENG 202 Dr . Hasler 1 May 2010 Examining the Role of Women in Drama: A Comparison between Miss Julie and Machinal These two plays were written at variant times, by opposing genders, in different countries . Both authors have a particular focus on women in their respective plays though they differ in their representation of this sex . Strindberg’s play was published in the late 1800s in response to Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House , a naturalistic play that depicts females as independent . In criticism of this notion, Strindberg crafted Miss Julie (partly) to secure the age- old representation of women as the lesser gender . In the 1920’s Sophie Treadwell wrote Machinal in response to a famous murder trial . Her female protagonist, Helen Jones, is made victim and slave to the world around her . Like Miss Julie, she struggles to fulfill her traditional female role, yet Helen manages to free herself from this assumed burden . Both of these women illustrate important developments in human thought; their fates reveal the power of choice and submission . In his celebrated “Preface to Miss Julie,” August Strindberg delivers a powerful interpretation of the theatre and its purpose . He also discusses his characters as complex souls whose fate cannot be determined by a single characteristic . The play itself offers a highly 1
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Hausheer realistic representation of class struggle that continues to be celebrated as a breakthrough in naturalistic drama . For his failed heroine, Miss Julie, Strindberg lists numerous flaws, but chief among them is her “flawed notion” that she can rise above man . As Strindberg clearly states, this flaw, in combination with Miss Julie’s nobility, drives her to commit suicide . Thus, the role of Miss Julie expresses her overall lack as a female in a male-dominated society . In his crafting of Miss Julie’s character, Strindberg is in no way innovative . He conforms to the traditionally held view of females as inferior and attempts to secure this supposed natural mandate by affirming it within drama . Sophie Treadwell offers a drastically altered perspective in Machinal . Her heroine, Helen Jones, wars internally against her captive marriage . At her breaking point, Helen murders her oppressive husband and faces the electric chair . By the end of the play, the audience is left wondering if this murder was indeed necessary . Helen Jones took charge of her own destiny in an attempt to free herself from her husband, but does her subsequent death confirm Strindberg’s notion that women cannot rise above men? Machinal was written in response to an actual murder trial in 1928 . Treadwell herself covered the trial of Ruth Snyder, a woman accused of murdering her husband, Albert Snyder .
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This note was uploaded on 09/22/2011 for the course ENG 202 taught by Professor Rhoner during the Spring '11 term at Saint Louis.

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1finallongpaper - Hausheer Kristin Hausheer HR ENG 202 Dr....

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