The play Death and the Maiden is an illustration of how politics affects an individual, and it shows how factuality enters fiction to defictionalize it. The characters in the play are confronting the past by wanting to know the truth either by telling or being told the truth. The play was written after Chile became a democratic government and it is based on uncertainties and deceit. The confession is not complete thus there is no final resolution. The relationship between the factual and the fiction is brought out by the characters who are struggling to accept the horrifying past encounters in the light of a changing present. Dr. Miranda was not willing to confess, and he persuades Gerardo to get Paulinas statement which he will base his confession on, Ill need your help, youd have to tell me so I can invent, invent based on what you tell me (Dorfman 57). Paulinas statement has small lies. Small variations (p. 64). She admits having done it so that Miranda will make corrections which he did. This verified his identity as her torturer, but she still made her husband believe that the confession was false. The playing entering facts in a fictional context does not underestimate the nature of rape and torture perpetrated by the state. Paulina as a victim is imaginary, but the factual truth of tortured victims enters the plays fiction and defictionalizes it.
In 1973, General Augusto Pinochet, a Chilean military led a coup that bombed the presidential palace. President Allende and many of his supporters were killed. General Pinochet then took control over the government. When he was in power, many people were detained and tortured while others fled the country. ("Life Under Pinochet: They Were Taking Turns To Electrocute Us One After The Other"). He was brutal, and people felt they were being taken advantage of and treated inhumanly. In the play Death and the Maiden Paulina is trying to regain power she lost with other people who had been tortured. The play revolves around the person who is in power. Gerardo states that As long as youre holding the gun, we have nothing to discuss. This shows that Paulina and total control over the situation and as her husband try to comfort her, he feels scared. Despite being in control, Dr. Miranda seems to have some power. Dr. Miranda says you are her therapy (p.36). This indicates that he still controls Paulina mentally and has power over her mind even though she has a gun pointed at his head.
The play, Death and the maiden contrast the concepts of justice, both the ideal and the practical. Paulina and Gerardo have a perception of the injustice that was exerted by Pinochets military regime though their view on how justice should be practiced in the current situation was different. Pinochet used force to prevent people from seeking a concession from the government, and he went to the extent of keeping individuals from the armed force from judgment with regards to human rights violation. Gerardo is a lawyer, and he works with the government commission. From his view, justice can be attained through the country court which finds justice on human rights from the government. Gerardo says please, Paulina, could we start being reasonable, start acting if- Paulina cuts him short saying you be reasonable. They never did anything to you (p. 25). He emphatically trusts that the commissioners can truly practice justice through the formal procedures after the nation became a democratic government.
Paulina does not have to trust the same judges who never intervened to save one life in seventeen years of dictatorship. From the brutality of her previous encounter with Miranda, she opts to take the law into her hands and seek justice on her own. She states, I want him to confess. I want him to sit in front of that cassette recorder and tell me what he did- not just to me, everything to everybody. P.41. Even after the doctor confesses, she still says, to kill you. So I can listen to my Schubert without thinking that youll also be listening to it... thats is what I need (p. 63). The immorality of the Pinochets military regime is clearly depicted in the play Death and the Maiden. The context is well established from Paulinas torment and other cases of abduction, murder, and torture. Paulina chooses to punish Miranda, but this does not reflect on the injustice of the military people. Gerardo says, We cant use their methods, and even though Paulina agrees with him she still thinks that her situation is not the same. She feels like she is giving Miranda a chance to defend himself, she was denied the same opportunity.
Ambiguity and inaccuracies emphasize on the political aspect of the play and how citizens rights were undermined by the government. It shows how the governments constitution fails to cater for every individuals needs. Ariel Dorfman hints to the audience to predict how the play ends or if Miranda was the actual torturer. He purposeful included evidence that argues the guilt of Dr. Miranda. Paulina recalled that Schuberts song was played by her torturer and Miranda had the copy in his car. This can either prove him guilty or innocent since it was a popular tune at that time. Dorfman makes the truth unknown, and this is an important aspect of the play. Another example is at the concert hall. Dorfman says that Roberto is in the concert hall, but he did not state it. Instead, he makes suggestions to the audience, Roberto enters, under a light, which has a faint phantasmagoric moonlight quality. He could be real, or he could be an illusion in Paulinas head (p. 67).
Dorfman, Ariel. Death And The Maiden. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin Books, 1992. Print.
"Life Under Pinochet: They Were Taking Turns To Electrocute Us One After The Other". Amnesty.org. N.p., 2013. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
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