Death and the Maiden. By Ariel Dorfman .. GERARDO: I hate to disagree, Roberto, but in my opinion, the death penalty has never solved any of the—. Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden is a moral thriller about a woman, Paulina, who believes that a stranger who comes to her home is the doctor who, under. Death and the Maiden study guide contains a biography of Ariel Dorfman, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full.

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Death and the Maiden’s haunting relevance | Ariel Dorfman | Opinion | The Guardian

The conflict of the play takes place in a country that has suffered a long-drawn dictatorship and has recently become democratic.

Nonetheless, parallels to most Latin American post-dictatorial states of the twentieth century can be drawn. The situation arises when Gerardo, one of the three characters, is appointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, thus establishing justice as a major theme within the play.

Early in the play, Gerardo has an idealist view of justice: Indeed, such was the aim of dorfmna Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose constitutive instrument enshrines the following guiding principles [1]:.

Although his ideology fosters forgiveness and harmony, he is unable to put his words into practice, because he cannot connect with the victims. This is exemplified in his relationship with his wife.


While Paulina was being tortured, he cheated on her with another woman, and his infidelity increases her anger at her sufferings rather than bringing the forgiveness and healing that she, as a victim, needs. Because he frequently alludes to time, Gerardo comes across as a desperate and ineffective peace-keeper. This single, monosyllabic word evokes all his repressed anguish and thus exposes his major weakness as a mediator: Nonetheless, at a deeper level it is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Her body language, according to stage directions, is submissive and reveals that her primary goal is survival. Msiden, this is one of the scars left by the dictatorship. Her subordination drofman a sharp contrast with her actions in Scene 3.

The stage directions detah a turning point in her behaviour. Her form is no longer restricted, and, through her adept actions, she overpowers Doctor Miranda.

She is now oppressing Miranda and she has drained the manliness in him, effectively becoming a manly figure herself and emasculating Miranda.

Death and the Maiden : Ariel Dorfman :

She does not undergo a clear tje process; instead she exerts her power, by using language and by wielding the gun to get her way. Progressively, Paulina begins to take the centre of the stage, thus allowing an interplay between the conflicting views of justice and reconciliation. As Paulina takes control of the situation, we may affirm that the practical view of justice overpowers the idealistic one.


Nevertheless, Dorfman plays with the audience until the end, leaving an mysterious and ambiguous closure to his play.

Death and the Maiden’s haunting relevance

Or perhaps, he is just convincing us that real recovery is simply not a true possibility. Her coerciveness has now allowed her to undertake the final decisions.

It is doffman that Dorfman refuses to end the play in an unambiguous way because providing a closed ending would imply an active adherence to one of the two ideas of justice: Instead, the play encourages the audience to reflect about the possibility of true justice and reconciliation miaden a nation recovering from a dictatorship.

Press enter to see results or esc to cancel. Indeed, such was the aim of the Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whose constitutive instrument enshrines the following guiding principles [1]: Written By Jose Avilez.