Miss Julie is one of the more naturalistic pieces that I have ever seen. Throughout the piece, everything is real and truly shows a tranche de vie or ‘slice of life.’ The characters are usually treated much more as psychological personas than in realistic productions like Ghosts.
In Miss Julie it seemed as if each character was representative of a specific type of person. Julie was the vixen from a higher class who was attracted to Jean, a man from a lower class. Jean was the strong man who put up with their relationship enough to hold a sexual advantage, or at times, disadvantage, but put a stop to it in the end. Kristin was a typical cook or maid in the house who was forced to put up with things simply because she had to.
All of the characters were incredibly strong. Although the play was an idea play, it was the characters that stick out in my mind. Also, the characters are different when one looks at the idea of a crowd. While in Ghosts there was a priest, a matriarch, a diseased son, a housemaid turned inheritor, and a bum for a father, in Miss Julie, there were the three main characters and a group of characters that was representative of lower servant’s games.
It is typical in naturalistic pieces that a group of characters stand for one idea or persona. In Miss Julie, the lower class servants are showing the pagan ritual of losing virginity. This highly symbolic scene contributes to the idea that a crowd can sometime be the protagonist of a play. Although the servants were not the main characters, they contributed to the understanding of when Julie loses her virginity to Jean in the upstairs bedroom at the same time as the pagan ritual.
The characters in Miss Julie also seemed to have more life in them than the characters in Ghosts. Although in Ghosts they constantly talk about the “love of life,” I don’t always see this love. Also, the characters in Ghosts are never truly defined. It is left for the audience to interpret who set the nursery on fire, and whether Pastor Manders has lust inside of him or if he doesn’t.
I never understood whether or not Engstrand was a pious and reverent man, or if he was an unscrupulous man who wanted to offer his ‘daughter’ up to others. Each of the characters had some good and each had some bad so that they were just common everyday people. They could represent any man or woman. In Miss Julie though, there were stereotypes and strongly defined characters. They weren’t just any characters put on a stage so get an idea across, which is the impression that I received after seeing Ghosts.