What is the cultural setting of Miss Julie?
Miss Julie was written in 1888 by August Strindberg. It is set in Sweden and addresses the political and social upheavals of that country in the nineteenth century.
Miss Julie is the daughter of a Count, a Swedish aristocrat, and the play is set in her father's manor. The setting is rural, meaning that the Count and his family are extremely powerful locally. During this period, the peasantry and growing bourgeois class were challenging the power of the hereditary nobility as Sweden was moving towards universal male suffrage and even extending the franchise to women. This meant that the social structure of society was undergoing dramatic upheavals, moving from an aristocratic one to a bourgeois one, with shifting gender roles.
This cultural setting forms the backdrop for Julie's own transgressive behavior. She is portrayed as a dominatrix in her relationship with her fiancé (against which he eventually rebels). She breaks social barriers in sharing festivities with her servants and sleeping with Jean; traditionally, while male aristocrats were tacitly permitted to sexually abuse female servants, for a female noble to seduce a male servant was taboo. The play was considered scandalous in its own period.