Essay about Animal Imagery in "Miss Julie"

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August Strindberg was one of the first naturalist playwrights. Darwinism influenced the naturalists to perceive a person's fate as the product of blind external or biological forces, chiefly hereditary and environmental. By replicating observed details of environment, the artist would allow the audience a deeper understanding of the forces acting on characters. Miss Julie demonstrates the naturalistic idea that human beings are strictly products of the forces surrounding them - that "free will" and "choice" are illusions. In August Strindberg's play, Miss Julie, Strindberg's naturalistic view of human behavior is exemplified through the use of animal imagery.

The first and most utilized animal image Strindberg employs is the dog.
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"Oh just some filthy muck Miss Julie wants for Diana." Kristin demonstrates Miss Julie's disgust when she says "She who nearly had that bitch of hers shot for running after the gatekeeper's mutt." The sexual tryst between the dogs also represents the sexual affair between Jean and Miss Julie, and how they mutually desire one another, while at the same time look down upon one another. Jean looks down on Miss Julie for being surprisingly easy to obtain, while Miss Julie looks down on Jean for being a servant of hers and of a lower social class.

In the play, Miss Julie says that she would like to have Jean "put down like an animal." Miss Julie feels that Jean is a sick animal and deserves to die. Like the imagery of the dog, Strindberg also uses the imagery of a horse. Jean says that, "A dog may lie on the Countess's sofa, a horse may have its nose stroked by a young lady's hand, but a common drudge!" In that quote Jean suggests that a servant is unable to socialize with the upper class, while dogs and horses are. Jean also compares himself to a horse when his master rings his bell. " I only have to hear that bell up there and I start like a frightened horse." The simile of comparing Jean to a frightened horse also has an ironic overtone, because a horse is a very powerful animal, and why would a powerful animal cower down to a weaker human animal, unless under
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