Miss Julie

by

August Strindberg

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Miss Julie Character Analysis

The title character of Miss Julie, Miss Julie is the hot-blooded and unpredictable daughter of the Count, and the mistress of both Jean and Christine. According to August Strindberg in his Preface to Miss Julie, Miss Julie’s demeanor throughout the play, because it is out of step with what would have been proper and ladylike, makes her a “half-woman.” He writes, “Miss Julie is a modern character, not because the man-hating half-woman may not have existed in all ages, but because now, after her discovery, she has stepped to the front and begun to make a noise. The half-woman is a type coming more and more into prominence, selling herself nowadays for power, decorations, distinctions, diplomas, as formerly for money, and the type indicates degeneration.” The “degeneration” Strindberg refers to is a product of Miss Julie’s unconventional upbringing. Miss Julie was born to a common mother who married her father, the Count without truly wanting to. Her mother disdained the idea of marriage and conventional female roles, and brought Julie up in a home where there were no conventional gender or class roles. Therefore, Julie grew up riding horses and doing things generally reserved for male children. As a result—according to Strindberg—Julie is constantly fighting against “natural” womanly imperatives like getting married and having children, and the emotional dysphoria and discord that arise from this ultimately render her unable to survive in the world. Indeed, Miss Julie is a largely allegorical character, standing in for Strindberg’s beliefs that the European aristocracy was an outmoded and restrictive social construct that elevated evolutionarily unstable individuals (like Julie) while subjugating and enslaving strong, smart, and intuitive men (like Jean.) Miss Julie is also a manifestation of Strindberg’s greater mistrust of and disdain for women, whom he portrayed throughout his body of work as bewitching temptresses whose chief goal was to unseat and overpower men. Miss Julie takes this fear to the extreme. A self-proclaimed “man-hater,” Julie breaks her own engagement when she tires of dominating and controlling her willingly submissive fiancée. Jean seduces Miss Julie and shames her after they make love, ultimately compelling her to commit suicide. In this way, Strindberg uses Julie’s character to argue that such degenerate women are no match for strong, self-possessed, “real” men like Jean. In addition, because Strindberg views Julie’s beliefs about her own autonomy to be an evolutionary defect, he presents her suicide as a necessary sacrifice so that she will not breed with a “degenerate man,” and “produce indeterminate sexes to whom life is a torture.”

Miss Julie Quotes in Miss Julie

The Miss Julie quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Julie or refer to Miss Julie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Biology vs. Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Miss Julie published in 1992.
Author’s Preface  Quotes

Miss Julie is a modern character, not because the man-hating half-woman may not have existed in all ages, but because now, after her discovery, she has stepped to the front and begun to make a noise. The half-woman is a type coming more and more into prominence, selling herself nowadays for power, decorations … as formerly for money.

Related Characters: Miss Julie
Page Number: xiii
Explanation and Analysis:

It is this, the nobleman’s harikiri or the law of the inner conscience compelling the Japanese to cut open his own abdomen at the insult of another… for this reason the valet, Jean continues to live, but Miss Julie cannot live without honor.”

Related Characters: Miss Julie
Page Number: xiii
Explanation and Analysis:
Miss Julie Quotes

They were in the stable yard one evening, and the young lady was training him, as she called it. Do you know what that meant? She made him leap over her horse whip the way you teach a dog to jump.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie, Christine
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

The young lady is too stuck up in some ways and not proud enough in others. Just as was the countess when she lived. She was most at home in the kitchen and among the cows, but she would never drive with only one horse.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie, Julie’s Mother
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Don't take it as a command. To-night we should enjoy ourselves as a lot of happy people, and all rank should be forgotten.

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

Take my advice, Miss Julie, don’t step down. Nobody will believe that you did it on purpose. The people will always say that you fell down.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

I have a dream that comes back to me ever so often… I have climbed to the top of a column and sit there without being able to tell how to get down again. I get dizzy when I look down, and I must get down, but I haven’t the courage to jump off.

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

Do you know how the world looks from below no, you don't. No more than do hawks and falcons, of whom we never see the back because they are always floating about high up in the sky.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

And I saw you walking among the roses, and I thought: if it be possible for a robber to get into heaven and dwell with the angels, then it is strange that a cotter's child, here on God's own earth, cannot get into the park and play with the count's daughter.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

Well, it wouldn't be easy to repeat. But I was rather surprised, and I couldn't understand where you had learned all those words. Perhaps, at bottom, there isn't quite so much difference as they think between one kind of people and another.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

No, Miss Julie, they don't love you. They take your food and spit at your back. Believe me

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

That's the life, I tell you! Constantly new faces and new languages. Never a minute free for nerves or brooding. No trouble about what to do-for the work is calling to be done: night and day.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

There will be barriers between us as long as we stay in this house… there is the count – and I have never met another person for whom I felt such respect. If I only catch sight of his gloves on a chair I feel small. If I only hear that bell up there, I jump like a shy horse.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie, The Count
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

I? Of course! I have my expert knowledge, my vast experience, my familiarity with several languages. That's the very best kind of capital, I should say.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

I think I read the story in a paper, and it was about a chimney-sweep who crawled into a wood-box full of lilacs because a girl had brought suit against him for not supporting her kid-.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

You're the right one to come and tell me that I am vulgar. People of my kind would never in their lives act as vulgarly as you have acted tonight. Do you think any servant girl would go for a man as you did? Did you ever see a girl of my class throw herself at anybody in that way? I have never seen the like of it except among beasts and prostitutes.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Don't you see: I could have made a countess of you, but you could never make me a count.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

I came into the world-against my mother’s wish, I have come to think. Then my mother wanted to bring me up in a perfectly natural state, and at the same time I was to learn everything that a boy is taught, so that I might prove that a woman is just as good as a man.

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Julie’s Mother
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

But I have read about your pedigree in a book that was lying on the drawing-room table. Do you know who was your first ancestor? A miller who let his wife sleep with the king one night during the war with Denmark. I have no such ancestry. I have none at all, but I can become an ancestor myself.

Related Characters: Jean (speaker), Miss Julie
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

I can't leave! I can't stay! Help me! I am so tired, so fearfully tired. Give me orders! Set me going, for I can no longer think, no longer act –

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

…but there's after all some difference between one kind of people and another- No, but this is something I'll never get over – And the young lady was so proud, and so tart to the men, that you couldn't believe she would ever let one come near her-and such a one at that!

Related Characters: Christine (speaker), Miss Julie, Jean
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

You think I cannot stand the sight of blood. You think I am as weak as that –oh, I should like to see your blood, your brains, on that block there. I should like to see your whole sex swimming in blood like that thing there. I think I could drink out of your skull, and bathe my feet in your open breast…

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

I don't know: I believe no longer in anything… Nothing! Nothing at all!

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Jean
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

But he was the one who reared me in contempt for my own sex—half woman and half man! Whose fault is it, this that has happened? My father's—my mother's—my own? My own? Why, I have nothing that is my own.

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Julie’s Mother, The Count
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Command me, and I'll obey you like a dog! Do me this last favor – save my honor, and save his name! You know what my will ought to do, and what it cannot do-now give me your will, and make me do it!

Related Characters: Miss Julie (speaker), Jean, The Count
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Miss Julie LitChart as a printable PDF.
Miss Julie PDF

Miss Julie Character Timeline in Miss Julie

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Julie appears in Miss Julie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Author’s Preface 
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Strindberg suggests that Miss Julie’s fate results from a combination of factors, including her “mistaken upbringing,” her fiancé’s influence on... (full context)
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Strindberg explains that Miss Julie is a “modern character” because the “man-hating half woman” has begun to get more power... (full context)
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However, Strindberg believes that Miss Julie is also a tragic character because she comes from military nobility, and is therefore bound... (full context)
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...the same superstitious connection to honor, which allows him to survive his tryst with Miss Julie. Strindberg explains that Jean is “of the kind that builds new stock”: a man who... (full context)
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...the Master’s lack of squeamishness,” meaning that he will not allow the tryst with Miss Julie to halt his goals for the future, and will likely end his life owning his... (full context)
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...from below,” examining and learning from the upper classes. Therefore, even though Jean agrees when Julie asks if poverty is a terrible misfortune, he also uses his low station to his... (full context)
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Strindberg adds that Jean, stands above Miss Julie because he is a man. “Sexually he is an aristocrat,” explains Strindberg, “because of his... (full context)
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In terms of the relationship between Julie and Jean, Strindberg explains that he does not believe that “two souls of such different... (full context)
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In terms of the characters, Strindberg chose to exclusively focus on Jean and Julie (adding Christine in for reference), but he made sure to keep the “unfortunate spirit of... (full context)
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...Strindberg dictates that the furniture should be arranged so that the audience can see both Julie and Jean’s faces whenever they sit across from each other at the table. Above all... (full context)
Miss Julie
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...his master the Count’s boots. Jean tells Christine that their mistress, the Count’s daughter Miss Julie, is “crazy tonight,” having asked both Jean and the gatekeeper to dance with her in... (full context)
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Christine explains that Miss Julie has been crazy ever since she ended her engagement with the county attorney. Jean agrees,... (full context)
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Christine explains that she is making food for Miss Julie’s dog, Diana, who is pregnant after having been found running around with the gatekeeper’s pug.... (full context)
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Jean explains that both Miss Julie and her mother before her are “too stuck up in some ways and not proud... (full context)
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Miss Julie enters, ostensibly to check if Christine has finished the tonic for her dog. Miss Julie... (full context)
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Julie is outraged at the suggestion that she is showing Jean preferential treatment, insisting it is... (full context)
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...curls the front of her hair with a hairpin. She notices the handkerchief that Miss Julie left behind and lifts it up to smell it. (full context)
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Jean returns alone, explaining that Miss Julie has been dancing wildly. Christine says that Julie is on her period and often becomes... (full context)
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Julie re-enters and is unhappy to see Jean and Christine being so familiar. Miss Julie orders... (full context)
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Jean returns in his coat. Miss Julie compliments him in French and he responds in French, which he learned while he was... (full context)
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Christine has fallen asleep by the stove. Julie remarks that she will make a good wife, and Jean agrees but tells her that... (full context)
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Julie asks Jean to sit down and have a drink with her. He refuses, saying it... (full context)
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Jean offers Miss Julie some of her father’s wine, but she says that she has simpler tastes and prefers... (full context)
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Jean gets up. He warns Miss Julie against continuing to seduce him. He explains that the other servants are already gossiping about... (full context)
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Julie asks Jean to pick lilacs with her and Jean refuses, telling Julie that he does... (full context)
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Miss Julie tells Jean that she has had a recurring dream in which she climbs to the... (full context)
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Jean is bothered by some dust in his eye and Miss Julie moves close to him to get it out, touching his arms as she does. Jean... (full context)
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Angered by her refusal, Jean tells Miss Julie that he is tired of “being her playmate” and prepares to go to bed. Julie... (full context)
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When Jean emerged, he saw Miss Julie walking in her rose garden and was bewitched by her immediately. Julie is charmed by... (full context)
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Julie applauds Jean’s story, telling him that he “narrates splendidly.” She asks Jean if he went... (full context)
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Julie defends herself, explaining that unlike Jean, aristocrats don’t have sex before marriage and so they... (full context)
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Jean asks for permission to go to bed, but Julie asks him to take her out in a boat on the lake to see the... (full context)
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Julie tells Jean that she does not fear her servants, who “love her.” Jean explains that... (full context)
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The servants enter and sing and dance around the kitchen before exiting. Jean and Miss Julie re-enter, having consummated their relationship. Jean tells Julie that it is impossible for the two... (full context)
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Jean continues to call JulieMiss Julie,” explaining that social classes will always be a barrier between them until they... (full context)
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Miss Julie agrees but is troubled that Jean will still not express his love for her. Jean... (full context)
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Aghast, Julie says that she will refuse to stay in her father’s house having been sullied by... (full context)
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Julie claims that the Midsummer feast made her drunk and Jean took advantage of her innocence.... (full context)
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Jean explains that he told Julie the romantic story because it is the kind of thing that women like. Indeed, Jean... (full context)
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Jean doesn’t stand for Julie’s insults. He shames her, calling her a “whore” and telling her that she behaved more... (full context)
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Julie begs Jean to help her escape and Jean momentarily softens. Jean says that he claims... (full context)
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Julie calls Jean a thief. Jean is not offended. He tells Miss Julie that, as an... (full context)
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Softening again, Jean tells Miss Julie that she is too good for him and has convinced herself she is in love... (full context)
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Following his attempted kiss, Miss Julie becomes angry again, telling Jean she hates him like a “rat.” Jean tells Miss Julie... (full context)
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Julie says that she was born “against her mother’s wish” and raised in a “state of... (full context)
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Eventually, the Count rebelled against his wife’s ideas and took control over his house. Julie’s mother became incredibly ill, often hiding away all day and staying out all night. Then... (full context)
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Miss Julie explains that the bricklayer was her mother’s lover and the money to rebuild had been... (full context)
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Miss Julie tells Jean that her father almost killed himself but eventually got “a new lease on... (full context)
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Miss Julie explains that she got engaged to her former fiancé, the county attorney, to make him... (full context)
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Julie tells Jean that she hates men unless “the weakness” comes over her, and would kill... (full context)
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Jean disagrees, telling Julie he doesn’t want to die; he merely wants to start his hotel. Jean says that... (full context)
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Miss Julie tries to stop Jean from leaving, chastising him for disavowing her after he has seduced... (full context)
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Julie suggests that they could escape scandal by going abroad and then getting married and divorced,... (full context)
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Julie again laments the seduction, claiming that it would be better if Jean loved her. Jean... (full context)
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Jean suggests that no one will know what has happened if Julie does not tell anyone. Miss Julie knows that to be false, asking Jean what will... (full context)
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Miss Julie cries that she is “trapped,” with nowhere to go and no way to stay. Jean... (full context)
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...laments having to go to church since he stayed up all night talking to Miss Julie. (full context)
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Christine surmises that Julie and Jean have slept together. She tells Jean that she is not angry with him... (full context)
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Miss Julie re-enters, dressed for traveling and carrying a cage with her prized canary. The sun has... (full context)
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Jean agrees only if Julie leaves the canary behind, since it will weigh them down. Julie says that her canary... (full context)
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Julie becomes hysterical at the sight of her dead bird. She screams at Jean to kill... (full context)
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Julie tells Jean that she will not run away with him to become “Mrs. Hovel” and... (full context)
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Christine re-enters and Julie begs her to “protect” her against Jean as a woman and as her friend. Christine... (full context)
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Miss Julie tries to convince Christine to run away with her and Jean, telling her that the... (full context)
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Christine asks Julie if she truly believes the story that the three of them could happily live together.... (full context)
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...she has plenty of respect herself, but Jean chides her for shaming him and Miss Julie for having sex when Christine herself uses her feminine charms to secure deals on meat... (full context)
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Julie asks Christine if she truly believes in God. Christine answers that she has always believed... (full context)
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Beaten down, Julie asks Jean if he can see any way to escape, begging him to put himself... (full context)
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Julie tells Jean that she is not strong enough to kill herself, just like the Count... (full context)
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Julie and Jean hear two rings of the bell upstairs, signaling that the Count has indeed... (full context)
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Miss Julie begs Jean to pretend to be the Count and muster the resolve of a nobleman... (full context)
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Jean whispers orders in Julie’s ear and she thanks him. Julie asks Jean if she will also receive God’s grace,... (full context)