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When the audience does not receive a rounded story, and causality is being blurred the effect of a play can be unsettling, suggesting the presence of an unsolved situation. Although in the case of Death And The Maiden ambiguity is used in an unusual, opposite way where the created effect is best described by calmness and acquiescence. Does Paulina kill Roberto, or does she let him stay alive? Is Roberto really there in the theatre or is he just a fantasy? Leaving these questions open is very provocative.
For the first sight the reader might feel intimidated, that the foundations for any interpretation are removed, there are so few facts to start from. Because as he might discovered from the context before there is a symbolism, that one can associate characters with the people of post Pinochet Chile, or people of any country in a state of healing. But then how does this symbolism work?
It does not say too much about the ways of reconciliation, and what is more that even if it does so it feels like an analytical dead end.
Because it says that no matter in what ways you try to set yourself free of trauma, by revenge or by forgiveness the outcome will be the same, Roberto or his phantom will always be there. This provocative nature of ambiguity forces the reader to look for new explanations. And where is the solution to be found if not in the book’s yet least understood part, in its title.
What is death and the maiden for the reader?
It can be the Schubert piece, or a motif that manifests itself in arts and literature from the medieval ages. But most importantly it is the motif for the universal presence of death. And suddenly all makes sense, Dorfman does not intend to intimidate the reader azzal, hogy azt mondja nincs megoldas a tramumaval valo megkuzdesre.
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