Death and the Maiden

by

Ariel Dorfman

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Death and the Maiden: Act 1, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
During the night, Paulina comes into the living room. She retrieves the gun again, as well as what appear to be “stockings.” She stands by Roberto’s bedroom, listening for a few moments.
Paulina’s behavior is quite mystifying for the audience at this point. They know something is up with her but as yet don’t know what it is.
Themes
Female Empowerment Theme Icon
Paulina enters Roberto’s bedroom, and there is a “confusing muffled sound, followed by a sort of cry.” She drags Roberto into the living room and ties him to a chair.
The sudden appearance of violence in the play is made shocking by the drawn-out and superficially civil conversation that has previously taken place between Gerardo and Roberto.
Themes
Female Empowerment Theme Icon
Civilization and Violence Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Paulina retrieves Roberto’s car keys from the spare room. Before leaving the house, she takes off her underwear and stuffs it into Roberto’s mouth. She goes outside and drives his car away. As the headlights momentarily fill the living room, Roberto is shown to be “totally unconscious.”
Paulina’s use of her underwear as a gag is partly because it’s the closest thing she has to hand. But there is a deeper meaning: by gagging Roberto with her underwear, she reframes an object related to sexual desire as a way of exerting her own newfound control.
Themes
Female Empowerment Theme Icon
Civilization and Violence Theme Icon