Death and the Maiden

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Death and the Maiden

Revenge has always been considered one of mankind’s greatest faults due to degree of difficulty to be able to forgive someone. Chilean author, Ariel Dorfman, exemplifies this statement in his stunning play, Death and the Maiden. His main character has the choice to kill her worst enemy or to set him free. His novel is open-ended, so the reader must decide whether she did or did not kill her nemesis. Although the play was intended to please crowds across Great Britain, Dorfman gives clues to the audience of the end result through diction, tone, and symbolism. The actions which lead to the encounter between enemy and adversary is one of implausible luck, as the chances of it occurring are incredibly low. The main character, Paulina, was a victim of an anarchical time in the Chilean government. She was held hostage by a group of malevolent insurgents and was daily raped for dozens of weeks. The main villain was a man called Doctor Miranda. He would repeatedly rape Paulina to the tune of Schubert’s classic “Death and the Maiden” (Dorfman 21). After finding Miranda, Paulina makes him a hostage and begins to have her way with him. By using explicit curse words, Dorfman emphasizes what Paulina is feeling. She says “Real men…fuck women when they are tied up in cots” (Dorfman 47). The diction behind using the vulgar word, fuck, is to portray the amount of detestation and hate coming from Paulina. “Real men” is depicted figuratively and meant to be understood as someone who is a coward.
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