Two Birds, One Stone: The Redemption of Miss Julie through Trifles

Date

2022-05

Authors

Reid, Alyssa

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Abstract

August Strindberg’s Miss Julie (1888) and Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (1916) examine similar themes: the roles of women, the excessive power of men, and the value of human life. Trifles is a feminist redemption of Miss Julie because the former refrains from criticizing feminine emotional complexity, gives women autonomy in the dramatic space and physical stage, and, ultimately, punishes the oppressor rather than the oppressed. This research examines Strindberg’s engagement of class and gender in line with theatrical stagings and social conditions of the time. It also looks at the setting of the kitchen in both plays: Strindberg gives a feminine space to a working-class man while Glaspell returns the kitchen to women. Ultimately, Julie is avenged through the story of Trifles. Whereas Julie was demonized for her grief, anger, and desires, Glaspell’s female characters find emotional solidarity that saves another oppressed woman. Seeing the maltreated women as their pet birds sheds light on the playwrights’ intentions: Strindberg sees Julie as less than men and easy to kill, while Glaspell sees Minnie as a justified woman. In Glaspell’s work, spaces—both the literal stage and metaphorical domestic areas—are reclaimed, and independent women are not demonized for their emotions. Although Strindberg’s views on class are progressive, Miss Julie is still misogynistic. One effective course of action that can emphasize Trifles as a feminist reclaiming of Miss Julie is teaching and performing the plays together. Trifles completes a thematic narrative that redeems Miss Julie.

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Keywords

Miss Julie, trifles, Strindberg, August, Glaspell, Susan, naturalism, Honors College

Citation

Reid, A. (2022). Two birds, one stone: The redemption of Miss Julie through trifles (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.

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