Foreshadowing and Dramatic Irony in Death and the Maiden

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Foreshadowing is the warning or the indication that something else is going to happen later on in the story. In Death and the Maiden, Ariel Dorfman uses this literary device to the maximum, exploring all the different ways he can make the reader predict or foresee what’s going to happen next. However, Dorfman also takes on the audience’s ideas and implements dramatic irony, giving the plot a twist of events and making the audience question themselves and their own theories as to why the character acts that way or why the author set things as they are. Dorfman takes the idea of dramatic irony when referring to the characters and their roles in the play. The greatest contrast in the play is between Paulina and Gerardo. Paulina Salas, a forty year old woman, waits for her husband late at night when she sees a car come towards her house. At first, Paulina is presented as the typical housewife, scared, insecure, loyal and loving towards her husband, who might even feel inferior, since she feels safer and secure when she has the gun. There is, however, an understatement, between the roles Paulina and her husband, Gerardo Escobar, play. First he calls her ‘Poor little love’ (Act 1, Scene 1, p.4) and continues to see her as his little, dependant, fragile, used woman, that can only do what women at the time were supposed to do; housework. Yet, during their conversations she only gives him sharp, short responses, most of the time seeming even a bit harsh: GERARDO: I’m really not in the mood for arguing, but we had agreed that… PAULINA: You were supposed to do it. I take care of the house, and you take care of- GERARDO: You don’t want help but afterward you…

PAULINA: -the car at least.
GERARDO: …afterward you complain.
PAULINA: I never complain.
GERARDO: This is an absurd discussion. What’re we fighting about? I’ve already forgotten what we… PAULINA: We’re not fighting, darling. You accused me of not fixing your spare… (Death and the Maiden, Act 1, Scene 1)...
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