Overview

Death and the Maiden


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A: Ariel Dorfman Pf: 1991, Santiago, Chile Pb: 1990 Tr: 1990 G: Pol. drama in 3 acts; Spanish prose S: Escobars' living room, Latin American country (Chile), c.1990 C: 2m, 1fIn a country where the former dictatorship has just been replaced with democracy, Gerardo Escobar (45) has been summoned to take part in a Commission investigating crimes by the former regime. Gerardo's wife Paulina (40), who was herself abducted, raped, and tortured 15 years previously, hopes he will discover the truth of her case. Roberto Miranda (50), a doctor, gives Gerardo a lift when his car has a puncture, and is invited to stay the night. Paulina, recognizing Roberto as her torturer, knocks him unconscious and ties him to a chair. She plays the music that Roberto always listened to while violating his detainees: Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet. She tells the horrified Roberto that they will try him in their own house. She declares that if Roberto confesses to his crimes, she will let him go. Roberto claims that he has nothing to confess, so Gerardo gets Paulina to tell him the details of what she suffered. He secretly passes on these details to Roberto, who duly confesses and signs. Paulina sends Gerardo off to fetch his car, and then threatens to shoot Roberto, because he is not truly repentant and only pretended to confess. He pleads with her to draw a line under the past, but she does not know why they ‘are always the ones who have to make concessions’. They freeze, a mirror is lowered reflecting the audience, and a concert of Schubert begins, attended by Paulina, Gerardo, and Roberto (perhaps just ‘an illusion in Paulina's head’).

A: Ariel Dorfman Pf: 1991, Santiago, Chile Pb: 1990 Tr: 1990 G: Pol. drama in 3 acts; Spanish prose S: Escobars' living room, Latin American country (Chile), c.1990 C: 2m, 1f

In this popular play by Chilean writer Dorfman about Pinochet's crimes, the desire for revenge and justice is opposed to the need for reconciliation. Despite the ambiguity of the ending, Dorfman seems to imply that the patient, unspectacular compromise of Gerardo is to be preferred to the radicalism of Paulina.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.