Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Miss Julie, a headstrong young woman, the daughter of a count. She has derived from her mother a hatred of men and of women’s subservient role. As the drama begins, the household servants are scandalized over the circumstances of Miss Julie’s broken engagement: She had made her fiancé jump over her horsewhip several times, giving him a cut with the whip each time, and he had left her. Subsequently, she takes advantage of her father’s absence to join the holiday dancing of the servants. She makes love to her father’s not unwilling valet, Jean, and then shifts helplessly and impractically from one plan of action to another: running off alone, running off with the valet, a suicide pact when they become tired of each other, and taking his fiancée, who naturally objects to being deserted, with them. When Jean kills Miss Julie’s pet finch, at her command, her love turns to hate. Then, ecstatic at the thought of freedom through suicide, she takes her lover’s razor and leaves the room.
Jean, Miss Julie’s lover and her father’s valet. His first suggestion is that they go to Como, Italy, to open a hotel. Later, he takes Miss Julie his razor and indicates it as one answer to her plea for advice. The return of his master, the count, reduces him again to the menial attitudes of a servant.
Christine, a cook and Jean’s fiancée. She loves him and does not...
(The entire section is 301 words.)
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Jean is the ambitious valet who engages in sexual relations with Julie. Although he is a servant, he longs for a higher social position. He tells Julie of his desire to open a hotel and become a count like her father. In his discussion with her, he reveals a taste for fine food and good wine as well as a dream of climbing a tree, a symbol of his desire to move up in the world. It is clear, however, that his actions will keep him a servant for life. He has become engaged to Kristine, the cook, further cementing his place in the lower classes and, when he and Miss Julie sleep together, he is primarily concerned with the fact that, because of his actions, he may lose his position as. a servant—the very station he says he wants so desperately to leave.
Although Jean freely insults Julie after their sexual encounter, apparently no longer seeing himself as her inferior, when Kristine insults Julie, Jean tells her she must be respectful towards her mistress Although Jean is brave enough to steal wine from his master, when the Count returns, ringing for his boots and coffee, Jean immediately returns to subservience, leading the audience to doubt that his ambitions will ever turn into reality.
Miss Julie is the play's main character. She does not understand her place in society as an aristocrat or as a woman; her confusion and lack of understanding is the primary focus of the play. When the audience first...
(The entire section is 629 words.)