The presentation of desire and frustration in Death and the Maiden and Antigone
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In the plays, Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman and Antigone by Jean Anouilh, the themes of desire and frustration are brought out by the authors, and are able to lift off the facade, uncovering the real truth and by doing this, allowing the reader to relate to the experiences and feelings of the characters and also explore deeper themes and ideas. Death and the Maiden is a story exploring the Pinochet regime in Chile. It deals with life after the regime and how one woman, Paulina, has to live with the memories of gruesome torture.
The play of Antigone deals with frustration on another level, as Antigone refuses to let her brother lie dead in the dirt, despite the King’s orders to the contrary and thereby causes a dispute within her family. In Death and the Maiden, Paulina is terrorized by the fact that the man who tortured her is in her house. It is logical and understandable that she would want revenge or to perform similar acts of torture on him. “It may be a teensy-weensy thing, but it’s enough for me.
During all these years not an hour has passed that I haven’t heard it, that same voice… shows how the memory of Dr. Miranda’s voice l remained in her head and has tormented her throughout her life. Gerardo, her husband sees her actions as drastic and careless and therefore tries to talk sense into her. “A vague memory of someone’s voice is not proof of anything, Paulina, it is not incontrovertible. ” Gerardo’s beliefs in this scenario are clearly shown to be on the opposite side of Paulina’s, and this creates intense frustration between the two who although have lived together for 15 years, have never really talked about what happened to them.
The tension and lack of knowledge created for the reader portrays the desire of Paulina to finally have things her way for once. She is tired of giving in to people, for what she believes to be the wrong reasons. Paulina is shown to be unafraid of confrontation, but she is seen to be conscious about physical contact “If I put it down, you’ll use your strength to win the argument. ” Says Paulina to Gerardo, and it shows how the knows Gerardo would find some way of penetrating her conscience and bring her down, mentally, on the right track, according to Gerardo, leaving Paulina more frustrated, more confused and with even more desire.
This links the ideas of being held back mentally, and physically by others, and therefore relevantly supports the theme of frustration in the play, but also links the oppression, which had occurred earlier in Chile. Antigone is a young girl whose uncle, the King has given orders to leave one of Antigone’s brothers to lie dead in the dirt just outside of the kingdom, and allowed the other brother a proper royal funeral and burial ground. His orders have been given this way due to the fact that the two brothers fought against each other and both died.
Antigone’s frustration is firstly at a different level as it deals with family as in Antigone’s brother, but desire is also explored and portrayed as a central theme of the play. As Antigone’s brother, Polynices, dies in battle fighting his own people, the King, Creon left Polynices to rot as only one of the royal brothers could receive a proper burial. Antigone is furious and thereby tries to win justice for her brother to the extent to which her own life is sacrificed. In addition, the King himself mainly causes Antigone’s frustrations as neither Creon’s compromises are to the standard of Antigone, nor will Antigone compromise.
Antigone feels so passionate about her brother’s funeral that she is willing to do anything for it to happen. “And what a person can do, a person ought to do. ” Shows how the she feels since she knows she can pull through with her ‘plan’ she will do it with, or without aid or support from anybody else, and regardless of the consequences. “For nobody. For myself” is what Antigone replies with when Creon asks her whom she is doing all this for. The short and sharp sentences bring about the image in one’s mind that she would stand there and stare into his eyes, biting her teeth together in fury.
The King sees Antigone’s passion and desires to be over her limitations in the order of the hierarchy, but she does what she feels is right, and will not changer her mind about it. Furthermore, Antigone’s desire to achieve her goal, being burying her brother or die trying shows a strong side of her, a side that will not give in. “Had I been a scullery maid washing my dishes when that law was read aloud to me, I should have washed the greasy water from my arms and gone out in my apron to bury my brother.
Antigone’s persistence and determination is clearly shown here as the King ignores her desire for justice. In Death and the Maiden, Paulina’s desire to seek justice is like that of Antigone’s. However, Paulina is willing to take a life to satisfy herself, where Antigone is willing to give her own life to achieve her goal. Both of these women are willing to go to extremes, however two completely different extremes, in order for them to accomplish what they believe in and not have to compromise to anyone.
The author of Death and the Maiden has carefully made Paulina out to be a very fragile, but also a very secretive person. No one expects her to pull on a gun on the doctor and tie him up. Paulina’s sudden change of character is portrayed in the language she suddenly starts to speak in. She started off in the beginning of the play as a very paranoid, but conscious lady and with a ‘proper’ vocabulary. “Why indeed? I just can’t imagine why. ” and “Right.
When you’re minister of justice in a few years’ time, that’ll be the peak, huh? These exchanges show how she could be both formal and also witty and somewhat ironic, portraying a side of her that changes as the pages turn. This language changes dramatically from a formal and proper tone, to a much more aggressive and profane tone “I’ll give you something to eat, sweet cunt. ” And “Out there you bastards may still give the orders, but in here, for now, I’m in command. Now is that clear? ” convey different sides of the person she is, and also shows how frustrated she is, as it helps convey the violence of her experience when she was detained.
Dorfman uses the vulgar language to display Paulina’s frustration, creating a very effective tone of ‘domination’ and a sense of being in command of the whole situation. Paulina’s desire is seen to depend on her actions, as she is quick at changing her mind. It shows how unstable her character is. This is a clear contrast from the character of Antigone, which emits so much masculinity and therefore we as the reader, have a hard time accepting her for what she believes in, the same way as Creon does.
The two plays are both plays of extreme activity relating arguments and standing up for what you believe in that both surprises and entertains the reader, as the ways they are brought out, are ways in which we can all relate to such as family problems and feelings of hatred and revenge. The problems with family disputes and the desire for revenge are common and relevant in today’s world. Ariel Dorfman and Jean Anouilh have created pieces of work that allow us not only to be entertained, but also to think about humanity and the ‘rights and wrongs’ of life.