1. Why does Danton's Death end with Julie and Lucille?

Quick answer:

Gender in this play is mostly exhibited through the gender roles of Julie and Lucille. Both women are devoted to their husbands, but they differ in that Julie commits suicide and Lucille joins her husband in death by shouting ‘Long live the King’. This role of gender is also shown through the different political views of Danton, Saint-Just and Robespierre: Danton believes in a monarchy; Saint-Just believes the people should prevail; Robespierre believes only he should have power. Julie (1763–94) was a well-known figure among French Revolutionary figures, who played an active role during the Revolution as a journalist and pamphleteer.

Expert Answers

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The focus on Julie and Lucille stresses the affirmative power of human love. This in some measure offsets the horrors of the Reign of Terror. Both Julie and Lucille are devoted to their husbands, and they refuse to live without them. Julie kills herself, while Lucille, sitting by the guillotine, shouts ‘Long Live the King’, which inevitably leads to her own arrest.

Lucille and Julie’s outlook is differentiated from the dominant male viewpoints presented in the play. They represent the emotional side of human nature. They exhibit both overwhelming love and grief for their husbands. The men in the play are more concerned with politics, philosophy, matters of the intellect. This is illustrated in the first scene of the play. Julie asks Danton, doesn’t he believe in her, and he replies with some abstract musings on the lack of genuine connections between people, that it’s impossible for one person to really know another:

We know little enough about one another. We’re thick-skinned creatures who reach out our hands toward one another, but it means nothing—leather rubbing against leather—we’re very lonely.

The play, then, exhibits a gender division that is quite familiar in literature. Women are generally seen to occupy emotional roles, and are largely concerned with private and domestic matters; men are more intellectual and connected to the public and political sphere.

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