Miss Julie

by

August Strindberg

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The Canary  Symbol Icon

Another animal that Strindberg uses to foreshadow Miss Julie’s fate is Julie’s prized canary. When Julie brings the bird’s gilded cage into the kitchen and asks Jean to run away with her, he tells her that he will only go if she leaves the bird behind. Already reeling from Diana’s “abandonment,” Miss Julie tells Jean that she would rather Jean killed her bird than allow it to be left alone. Jean kills the bird without hesitation, cutting its head off with an axe, foreshadowing the way that Julie ultimately slits her own throat at Jean’s command. The canary, like Julie herself, symbolizes what Strindberg believes to be the frivolity of the upper classes. In killing the bird, Jean not only reveals his cold and unfeeling resolve to escape, but also his disdain for the fact that Miss Julie cares more about the fate of her pet bird than for the living conditions of most of the servants on her estate. Like the canary in its gilded cage, Julie herself proves to have been made weak by her privileged upbringing, and is ultimately defenseless against Jean when he decides to do away with her, too.

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The Canary Symbol Timeline in Miss Julie

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Canary appears in Miss Julie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Miss Julie
Biology vs. Society Theme Icon
Dominance vs. Submission Theme Icon
Confinement and Escape Theme Icon
Miss Julie re-enters, dressed for traveling and carrying a cage with her prized canary. The sun has risen and Julie is incredibly nervous. Jean tells her that Christine is... (full context)
Biology vs. Society Theme Icon
Jean agrees only if Julie leaves the canary behind, since it will weigh them down. Julie says that her canary is her only... (full context)
Biology vs. Society Theme Icon
Natural vs. Unnatural Womanhood Theme Icon
Dominance vs. Submission Theme Icon
Julie becomes hysterical at the sight of her dead bird. She screams at Jean to kill her as well, cursing Jean and his entire sex.... (full context)