How important is the role of Kristine in Miss Julie?

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Christine is a relatively minor character in the play, though nonetheless important in illuminating certain character traits of the main players. As a humble servant with no ambitions to rise above her lowly status, Christine is ideally placed to provide a stable, disinterested perspective on the stormy, tumultuous relationship that...

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Christine is a relatively minor character in the play, though nonetheless important in illuminating certain character traits of the main players. As a humble servant with no ambitions to rise above her lowly status, Christine is ideally placed to provide a stable, disinterested perspective on the stormy, tumultuous relationship that unfolds between Julie and Jean.

Like most of the contemporary audience, Christine is repulsed by what she sees as Julie's indecent behavior, which is entirely unbecoming of a young lady of quality. In that sense, she acts as a way in to the drama for those of us not part of the rarefied aristocratic world that Julie inhabits. Although not above moral lapses herself, she is the voice of tradition, of God-fearing Christianity, whose old-fashioned values provide a commentary on the convention-defying actions of Julie and Jean. In that sense, one could say that Christine's role is similar to that of the chorus in an ancient Greek tragedy.

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The prime function and purpose of Kristine in this play is the way that she acts as a foil to both Jean, her fiance, and Julie, her mistress. She has the role of being the Count's cook and is marked by her acceptance of the role that she has in society and the way in which she never seeks to transcend that role or fight against the sphere that she has been given by society.

One way that this is shown is through her extreme traditionalism. She is deeply religious, and finds the actions of Julie very offensive and horrendous. For example, when she discovers that Jean and Julie have slept together, Kristine says that she is no longer able to work for such an employer who flouts all moral standards. Interestingly, she places the majority of the blame firmly on the shoulders of Julie and tells Jean that his behaviour would have been not as bad if he had slept with another servant. From Kristine's perspective, as class-bound as she is, it is Julie who has debased herself by sleeping with a servant. She is instrumental in denying Jean and Julie escape, showing her ultimate loyalty lies with the Count rather than anybody else.

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