Act 1 Scene 3 in Death and the Maiden has no dialogue. How is suspense created through Paulina's actions? 

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act I scene 3 of Death and the Maiden is a pivotal scene in the play. In scene 2, we meet Roberto, the doctor who had stopped to help Paulina's husband with his flat tire. When Paulina hears the voice of Roberto, she is instantly convinced that he is the madman who had raped her many years ago when she was a political prisoner. She decides then that she must make him pay for the crimes he committed against her. Her husband, Gerardo, convinces her to let him stay the night. She agrees, though we see her starting to act mysteriously. 

Scene 3 is in total silence. Not a single word is spoken throughout the entire scene. Paulina's actions create a scenario of suspense for us, the audience. We are not quite sure was happened, but we see Paulina dragging what looks like a body into a room. We see her go and take a gun out of a drawer and some stockings. We realize that she is dragging a body, and it is the body of Roberto. She ties him to a chair and stuffs her panties in his mouth. By the end of the scene, we see Roberto tied to a chair and unconscious. What is really creepy about this scene, is that Paulina seems to be calm and in control of herself. She never speaks or makes a sound. 

Is Paulina justified in trying to get her own sense of revenge? How did she manage to overpower Roberto? This one scene, although nothing is ever said, is the most profound scene in the play. We see a strength in Paulina, and we see that the horrors of the past are still alive within her. This scene sets us up for what is to come.