Miss Julie

Natural Elements: An Exploration of Extramarital Sex and Class Division in Miss Julie 12th Grade

Strindberg recurrently uses symbolism drawn from nature to great effect throughout his play Miss Julie, accentuating the impact of the act of sexual intercourse on the shifting class divisions between Julie and Jean. The evocative imagery Strindberg uses as the play progresses highlights the protagonists’ deviation from the socially acceptable behavioural norms of the time. Already in the stage setting, the air is heavy with sexual tension. Egil Törnqvist (1999) writes, ‘To a Swede, the birch leaves in the kitchen indicate it is Midsummer, Midsummer Eve being the one day in the year when “all rank is laid aside”, when masters and servants come together – and when drinking and love-making are carnivalesque’ and ‘there is a link between the lilacs on the kitchen table and the lilac bushes outside, suggesting that the two groups share the same sexual needs (lilacs as aphrodisiacs). The combination of Cupid, lilacs and phallic-shaped poplars speaks for itself.’ Strategically placed symbols, which are repeated throughout the play, illustrate and provide added emphasis on the chasm between the social classes of the time contributed by the escalating seduction.

Near the offset, both Jean and Julie describe dreams, which are an...

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