Miss Julie Sympathy

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The trigger for sympathy for the eponymous character Miss Julie

The inevitability of fate as a motor for drama has been used through the ages and August Strindberg’s controversial play Miss Julie falls into this grouping of literary classics. The eponymous protagonist (daughter of a count and a commoner), is driven by a hereditary need to integrate with the lower class yet simultaneously lord over them. Using her sexuality but also tempted by lowering herself socially, she beds her servant, Jean, leading to her suicide at the closing of the play. Through the characterization of Julie, Strindberg demonstrates the existentialist theory that humans may make choices, however these will only prolong their inevitable fate, which in turn may trigger strong sympathy in
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She was “born a commoner” (Strindberg 93) and this affiliation with the lower class is what provokes Julie’s desire to belong to it as well; throughout the play her struggle is due to her confusion as to which social class she should belong to. When she admits “It must be a tremendous misfortune to be poor” (83), the paradox between the words “tremendous” and “misfortune” reveals her indecisiveness and her conflict. She describes a recurring dream to Jean, “I’m sitting at the top of a pillar...no way of getting down” (79). Here she is describing her social position at the top as part of the nobility. “But down I must. I can’t stay where I am and I long to fall” (79). Even though this describes a dream, it is a metaphor used by Strindberg to represent her aspiration to lower herself. Throughout the description the word “down” (79) is repeated six times. This emphasis brings to light the link between her dream and her subconsciousness, and how her dream is a foreshadowing of future events to

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