The major theme of the play is Darwinism, a theory that was a significant influence on the author during his naturalistic period. It isn't explicitly stated in the script, but it is in the preface, where Strindberg describes his two lead characters, Miss Julie and Jean, as vying against each other in an evolutionary “life and death” battle for a survival of the fittest. The character, Miss Julie, represents the last of an old aristocratic breed about to die out, whereas Jean represents one who is clambering upwards, and who is more fit to thrive because he is better able to adapt in terms of the “life roles” he can take on. The play contains a variety of themes, partly because Miss Julie’s actions are motivated by a range of factors and influences: Her class, her desires and impulsive nature, her father, and the dynamic traumas of her family histories. She is given a number of motivations because the author, in wanting to be naturalistic, realizes that in life people can be motivated in a number of ways, and also because the author is taking a stand against the dominant theatrical idea that says that characters should be written with only one primary motivation.
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