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Miss Julie | Study Guide

August Strindberg

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Miss Julie | Character Analysis


Miss Julie

Miss Julie attempts to be dominant in her relations with others in the house and flirts openly with the valet while acting condescendingly to the cook, a rival for the valet's affections. She acts out her many insecurities with them as she lacks confidence in her identity, the result of a confused and genderless upbringing. Allowing herself to be seduced by the valet, Miss Julie falls to pieces when trying to reassert her dominance. She fears the consequences of their actions and imagines the judgment of her father, the absent Count. She finally sacrifices herself to the power of suggestion the valet uses over her weak will.


Jean has a small amount of sophisticated work experience but is in a menial position, tending to the Count's belongings. Jean may behave arrogantly, but his humble origins and position render him servile, as he is when the Count's bell summons him at the play's end. Self-preservation is key to Jean's character. When he discovers Miss Julie has no money, he knows he needs to remain the Count's valet rather than lose his job because of inappropriate behavior. Jean manipulates the attentions of the older cook and takes advantage of a coincidence of need to seduce Miss Julie, who falls easily into his bed. He is as nervous as she about what their future could be because in fact they can have no future together when the truth emerges about their actions. He uses his hypnotic powers of suggestion to lead her to suicide.


Christine is five years older than Jean. Although she and Jean talk about being engaged to each other, their union seems more casual than serious. Christine is religious, and her moral code—together with jealousy—leads her to disapprove of Jean's and Miss Julie's reckless behavior. She doesn't believe any of their unrealistic plans for escape and seems determined to save her own position and self-respect by leaving her job. Although she would like Jean to accompany her, she alone of the three characters has the strength and determination to leave on her own when she understands Jean will remain where he is.

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