Placing Blame in "Miss Julia"

In his play "Miss Julia," August Strindberg depicts the conflict and struggle that resides in his central character, Miss Julia. Written in 1888, the play incorporates many emergent psychological notions concerning hereditary and environmental influences. These influences are what cause the struggle and conflict within Miss Julia. The conflict regards Miss Julia's inability to identify with either the upper class of her father or the common class of her mother. This conflict is a result of her parents' influence, especially her mother's. The conflict seems to be a result of the gap between her father's position and her mother's ideals. According to Miss Julia's description of her past, "I was to learn everything a boy does–just to prove that a woman's as good as a man" (p. 102). As Miss Julia grows to adulthood, her mother raises her contrary to the norms of society at that time, until the estate collapses and her father assumes control of the situation. Through her mother, Miss Julia absorbs many of her characteristics such as her "common" strength of will and here hatred of men. The fundamental result of this is a woman who has the "common" ideals of her mother, especially concerning men, but who is caught in the upper class world of her father, with all its constraints which define proper behavior. While this struggle continues within Julia, Jean serves as the catalyst which brings the conflict to the surface. In light of the influences from her past and in light of those that affect her from the immediate environment, the subtitle, A Naturalistic Play, is very accurate in expressing the sources of Miss Julia's torment.