Death And The Maiden Play Analysis

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Death and the Maiden, a play by Chilean dramatist Ariel Dorfman is built around an unsolved mystery. This essay will explore the nature of hysteria and its place and purpose in the play, and how Dorfman uses it to drive the plot forward as well as bring out the salient themes of the play. Hysteria also serves as an abstraction for describing the general atmosphere of the country the play is set in, a country that bears similarity to Chile, given that it had just gone through a revolution and a change in regime from a fascist dictatorship to a democracy. Each of the three main characters represents a distinct group of citizens in such a country : victims, perpetrators and the administrators of justice. By placing all three characters together in a claustrophobic setting, Dorfman is able to incite the dramatic conflict and through this conflict the central themes of truth, justice, freedom and doubt arise, all of which play a crucial role in adding to the overall impact of the play.…show more content…
Hysteria also reflects the zeitgeist of post revolution Chile and Dorfman uses this play to ascribe the hysteria and paranoia to radical political change. This play demonstrates that excessive human experience produces excessive human response. Through this play, Dorfman raises many pertinent questions about how political change affects the individual and the country itself. Is it legitimate to sacrifice the truth to ensure peace? Who is guilty? Who suffered the most? Raising these questions is a key part of the play, especially if we consider Dorfman’s purpose of writing the play itself: to show that “a fragile democracy is strengthened by expressing for all to see the deep dramas and sorrows and hopes that underlie its existence and that it is not by hiding the damage we have inflicted on ourselves that we will avoid its
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