Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Country estate

Country estate. Grand home of an unnamed Swedish count. A silent but prominent symbol of the unseen count’s authority in his manor house’s kitchen is a pair of his riding boots. Julie is his unmarried daughter of twenty-five, whose engagement has recently been broken off. With its community of tenant farmers, the estate could well lie near Stockholm, a region Strindberg knew well.

It is Midsummer Eve, an occasion for carousing by the rural population. In traditional Scandinavian culture, the shortest night of the year was an interstice in normal time, when social lines might be crossed. The farmers sing off-color songs to satirize their “betters,” and the aristocratic Julie invites, even commands, her father’s servant to dance on the village green that is only hinted at by lilacs in bloom beyond the kitchen door.

As Julie explains her mixed aversion and attraction to men, she reveals her family past. Her mother was not well born, and Jean knows that even the count’s supposed aristocratic background has little historical depth. The manor house itself had been destroyed by arson, then rebuilt under questionable financial circumstances dictated by the likely arsonist, Julie’s mother. Until the count restored patriarchal order to the chaos of the estate, Julie’s mother had raised her as a tomboy. She learned to ride and shoot but not manage a house. As an adult in this house of dubious origin, she is helplessly stranded between age and gender roles, and the conflicting demands of awakening sexuality and constraining social order.

Jean’s tree

Jean’s tree. Image in a recurrent dream of the count’s valet, who is Julie’s lover. Kristin’s kitchen is set in ordinary space, although the scene has an intentionally skewed quality explicitly stated in the dramatist’s stage directions that suggests the areas beyond it. Vertical space is also...

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Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

In 1859, less than thirty years before Strindberg wrote Miss Julie, Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, a book that...

(The entire section is 654 words.)

Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

Allusion
An allusion is a reference to another literary work. In Miss Julie, the name of Julie's dog, Diana, is an...

(The entire section is 594 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

1888: Although published in 1859, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species is still the focus of controversy as religious people...

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Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

Compare Miss Julie to Edna in Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening. How do both women respond to the restrictions of their...

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Media Adaptations

(Drama for Students)

Miss Julie was made into the 1951 Swedish film Froken Julie, directed by Alf Sjoberg.

A television version of...

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What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

A Doll's House, a play by Henrik Ibsen first produced in 1879, considers the place of the heroine, Nora, as a woman in her culture,...

(The entire section is 206 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Sources
Carlson, Harry G. Strindberg and the Poetry of Myth, University of California Press, 1982, pp. 61-64.

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Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Gilman, Richard. “Strindberg.” In The Making of Modern Drama. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974. Posits that Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen restored the presence of personal existence to the drama. In Miss Julie, Jean and Julie become the agencies for each other’s discovery of their divided selves.

Johnson, Walter. “Master Dramatist.” In August Strindberg. Boston: Twayne, 1976. Discusses the plays Strindberg wrote from 1882 to 1894. Asserts that in Miss Julie, Strindberg achieves the goals of naturalistic drama that he had outlined in the play’s preface.

Sprinchorn, Evert. Strindberg as Dramatist. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1982. Puts Strindberg’s drama in context of the dramaturgy of the time and of Strindberg’s life and psychology. Argues that Miss Julie and The Father (1887) move beyond naturalism into tragedy; compares Miss Julie with Jean Genet’s The Maids (1947).

Törnqvist, Egil. “Speech Situations in Fröken Julie/Miss Julie.” In Strindbergian Drama: Themes and Structure. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1982. Analyzes the dialogue in the play, dividing it into duologues, triologues, and monologues, and pointing out the significance of each.

Valency, Maurice. “Strindberg.” In The Flower and the Castle: An Introduction to Modern Drama. 1963. Reprint. New York: Schocken Books, 1982. Valency sees in Strindberg’s works a continuous spiritual autobiography styled in the art of the unbalanced and exces-sive. In Miss Julie, the dramatist identifies himself with Jean and characterizes Julie as an iconic femme fatale.