Miss Julie which was published nine years after Ibsen’ realist play A Doll’s House, is an example of naturalist movement which tried to show that heredity, environment and social conditions rather than hard work shape an individual’s fate. Strindberg considering himself a naturalist and being an opponent of Ibsen’s ideas in A Doll’s House, wrote Miss Julie with a naturalist pessimism and rejected the idea of women being independent and liberating themselves from the unfortunate situations they were in.
The physical worlds of the two plays are somehow the same. In both cases the space is an interior one and the scene is a single room fully described by the author. However Ibsen has used more props on the stage in order to make it more lifelike. Time plays an important role in the two plays. As the time passes the peaceful happy mood of the beginning of the play changes to a nervous one and the protagonist approaches her doom. We can feel the same anxiety that the central characters feel from passing of the time.Order now
However, the social worlds of these two plays are different. Strindberg has portrayed the world of aristocrats and their servants where the differences between the social classes is important and referred to continuously while Ibsen has chosen people who are almost of the same class. They are all working people who have reached their present situation with hard work and the social classes seem not to be important here. In this case A Doll’s House, a realist play, is more believable and like the everyday life of its audience.
Symbolism is an important feature of the naturalist theatre and Strindberg has used this in several cases. The first symbol that we see in the play is the Count’s boots. From the beginning of the play we hear about the Count, the master of the house but he never appears on the stage. When Miss Julie have had sex with Jean, and by doing so has dishonored herself, they are afraid of the Count’s reaction and it’s this fear that causes Miss Julie to commit suicide when her father comes home. In all this time the presence of his boots somehow symbolizes the Count’s himself although he is not present, but he has his authority.
The second symbol is Miss Julie’s thoroughbred dog which has consorting with the gatekeeper’s dog and Miss Julie herself is angry at her because she believes that her well-bred animal should mate with one of the same breed. The dog may symbolize Miss Julie because she who is considered to be from noble blood and the mistress of the house engages in a relationship with Jean who is her servant. And her reaction to her dog may represent her father’s reaction to what she has done. The dreams of Jean and Julie which are symbols in nature give us an account of every character’s point of view. Julie in her dreams is falling and descending which can mean that in her real life she is descending from her position. Jean on the other hand is going upward and ascending which is a result of his personal wish to grow to a higher social class.
Another symbol may be Miss Julie’s canary which is killed by Jean. The bird is in cage and as it is the only thing Miss Julie wants to take with her it may symbolize herself and her identity. As she prefers to kill the bird rather than leaving it behind, she prefers to kill herself rather than staying in the same situation. The last symbol can be the fact that Julie commits suicide with Jean’s razor. Because earlier in the play Jean used that razor to shave, the razor can symbolize Jean’s strength and sexuality and his decision not to accompany her that led to her killing herself. It can also represent the male authority and dominance that has caused Miss Julie to be so wretched to choose death.
From the characteristics of naturalism and realism which can be seen both in A Doll’s House and Miss Julie one can refer to the long description of the scenes that may not be useful to the whole plot of the play. For example the scene of Christine cooking in the kitchen in Miss Julie and the scene where Nora is playing with her children in A Doll’s House may not be of any importance in the progress of the plot but they are necessary to create a lifelike sense in the play.
Both Julie and A Doll’s House’s Nora are depicted as having identity problems and they both put the blame on their parents specially their fathers. But they are different in many ways. First of all, when Miss Julie starts talking to Jean we see that she is aware of her problems and that is why she acts strangely causing Jean to call her mad She clearly states that she was brought up like a boy by her mother and then by her father taking control of her upbringing she is completely confused with her true identity: “he brought me up to despise my own sex, to be half a woman and half a man. Who is to blame for what has happened? My father, my mother, I myself? I myself? I haven’t got a self at all, I haven’t got a thought which I don’t get from my father, I haven’t got a passion which I don’t get from my mother, and the latest phase the equality of men and women that I got from my fiance, whom I called a scoundrel for his pains. How then can it be my own fault?”
But Nora doesn’t understand her problem until the last pages of the play when she observes the reaction of her husband to her secret. The second difference between these two characters is their treatment of the problem. Miss Julie completely knowing her problem never takes a chance to leave her father and to find her true identity. Even when she is obliged to leave the house and flee because of the so called shame she has brought to her father, she asks Jean to accompany her although she hates him. She can’t be independent from men, she finds it impossible to leave home and live on her own, she can’t think and act independently and she even begs Jean to give her orders. In this case she is the exact opposite of Nora. She is begging for something that Nora is trying to escape from.