Gender Role In Ariel Dorfman's 'Death And The Maiden'

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Ariel Dorfman’s “Death and the Maiden” is a work of drama that aims to provide a social commentary on the social after effects of a post dictatorial regime. Dealing with gender roles, the ambiguity of the truth, and the role of justice - Dorfman provides an outlet for victims of war crimes to question their own experiences, as well as forcing an entire society to ponder questions that seem unanswerable. Through the use of the motif of light, contrasting scene choice and an important final dialogue, Dorfman creates a moving work that leads the spectator to wonder: viewing Paulina as a victim of a patriarchal society, do her strifes and emotional conviction make us more or less sure of the authenticity of her accusations? A pivotal part of…show more content…
The psychological impacts of a patriarchal society are seen throughout the production. Paulina is not only the victim of a crime, but also the victim of a society that has acted in a misogynistic way toward her. An interesting idea that Dorfman explores is whether this victimisation has served Paulina a significant disadvantage. Gender inequality seems prevalent throughout the play, particularly demonstrated through the relationship between Gerardo and Paulina. When Gerardo returns home in the first act, Paulina questions him regarding the truth commission leading to the revelation Gerardo has accepted a job that deals directly with the assault she faced without asking her beforehand. This conversation sheds light on the strict gender roles within the society. As Gerardo is symbolic of the stereotypical male, he is the breadwinner and dominant figure. The inference made here is that he need not consult his wife whose opinion is largely irrelevant due to her inherent insignificance as a woman, despite the fact that this new job title deals with events that affected her life so incredibly. This depiction of gender roles shows the disparity of power. Dorfman uses this issue as a dramatic technique to angle the audience in a sympathetic way towards Paulina, whilst subtly asking them to contemplate whether the disparity between men and women is fair or not. The shift in gender roles confuses the audience and forces them to potentially realign their sympathies - considering whether gender matters when evaluating abusive or unacceptable
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