Primary Text : Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden
* What is a person's (and a nation's) capacity for forgiveness of past wrongs?
* How necessary is revisiting the painful past in order to move into the future, for people and for nations?
* Is there an ethical way to punish immoral acts?
1. Analysis of dramatic text through close reading, performance, and writing.
2. Linking with other texts
1. Formal Typed Journals: 100pts
2. Personal Literary Journal and Textmarking: 75pts
3. Dramatic Scene Presentation: 50pts
4. Film Analysis: 25pts
5. Quizzes and Classwork 50pts
6. Internet Discussion 25pts
7. Essay of Own Choosing: 75pts
Total: 400 pts
Monday, September 11: Introduction, pass back Summer Reading Essay Outlines
Wednesday, September 13: Act I reading due, pass back Summer Reading Essay Outlines
Thursday, September 14: Act II reading due
Friday, September 15: First draft of Summer Reading Essay due (or e-mailed by Sunday, September 17 by 4:00pm)
Monday, September 18: Act III reading due
Tuesday, September 19: Three journals (from above) due, first drafts back
Wednesday, September 20: Scene Presentations
Thursday, September 21: Scene Presentations
Friday, September 22: Scene Presentations / Final Summer Reading Essay drafts due (or e-mailed by September 24 at 4:00pm)
Monday, September 24-Wednesday, September 26: Watch film
Monday, September 24: Begin Death and the Maiden essay
Monday, September 24: Begin The House of the Spirits
1. Formal Typed Journals (Must answer in full-page, single-spaced, typed entries.)
Each entry is worth 25 points.
/5 Textual Evidence
/5 Original Thought
/5 Formal Structure
/5 Appropriate Register
Reflection Topics: Choose Three.
1. How would you characterize the marriage of Paulina and Gerardo?
2. How does the playwright use details of the setting and atmosphere to illustrate the mood of the play?
3. How do the life roles or careers of each of the characters seem to be reflected in their actions and beliefs?
4. Analyze the different ways the characters view the idea of revenge in the play. In what ways is it presented as satisfying or dissatisfying?
5. Do you believe Paulina or Dr. Miranda? Why? Provide details evidence.
Device Topics. Choose One.
1. Discuss one significant symbol, such as the title or the mirror, that Dorfman employs. How does it create meaning?
2. Discuss one significant paradox that Dorfman employs. How does it create meaning?
3. What is the effect of the ending? How does it create meaning?
2. Personal Literary Journals and Textmarking
Personal Literary Journal
Besides the journals you complete above, you will be keeping a personal journal throughout your reading of the three texts for your world lit paper. Included for Death and the Maiden and clearly labeled should be the following:
After each Act
A. First Impressions: Immediately after finishing a section, take some time to write down anything that comes to you in relation to the text, your initial reactions or responses. Don't try to puzzle them out; write freely. If the reading bores you, write that down. If you're intrigued by certain statements, attract to characters, interested in issues or ideas, if you find something confusing or irritating, write it down. Just keep writing. (10pts)
B. Details: Write down five details that strike you in each Act and tell why they are significant, what purpose they serve, what connotations they evoke. (10pts)
C. Titles: Titles are important. Create titles for each of the Acts in the play. Be creative; it will be more useful if you choose symbolic titles. (5pts)
As you go, create list to add to
D. Character Sketch: Write a character sketch of any character, incorporating quotations from the text. (10pts)
E. Connections : After Act II and Act III, write about the connection of ideas between acts. (5pts)
F. Character Details: List ten details about another major character. (5pts)
G. Questions: List five questions that occur to you as you read. (5pts)
Textmarking (25 pts)
After reading the play in its entirety, read it again, color-marking and notating your copy with the following (at a minimum):
Ø Tone (shifts within dialogue, or points where intriguing)
Ø Repeated images or ideas such as…
o Atonement and Forgiveness
o Death and the Maiden
o Healing and Freedom
o Doubt and Ambiguity
o Justice and Injustice
o Memory and Reminiscence
o Morality and Ethics
Ø ICE-Q (Ideas and Inferences, Connections with other texts or examples from the world, Emotional Responses, Questions)
3. Dramatic Presentation
We will be presenting scenes in groups in class next week. The rubric will be with the assignment. (50pts)
4. Film Analysis
We will be watching the 1994 Roman Polanski film version of this play, starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. While watching it, we will analyze the directorial and acting choices completed. Note: This film is rated 'R," I will have to have a parental signature from each of your parents allowing you to watch the film in class.
5. Quizzes and Classwork
Various classwork, journals, quizzes, and literary term study completed during class. (50 pts)
6. Internet Discussion
Go to www.nicenet.org. Our class code is 3Z73039X44. Create a name for yourself (use your actual name, not a pseudonym) and wait for further instructions.
You will be developing your own essay topic for this play, which is why you will be completing such copious notes and journals as you read. Rubric to follow.
Ariel Dorfman carefully specifies in his stage directions that Death and the Maiden is set in "a country that is probably Chile but could be any country that has given itself a democratic government just after a long period of dictatorship.'' There is both a specificity and a universality to the play, as many critics have noted, making it extremely topical in the late-twentieth century era of tentative political transformation. Frank Rich of the New York Times, for example, called the play a "mousetrap designed to catch the conscience of an international audience at a historic moment when many more nations than Chile are moving from totalitarian terror to fragile freedom." John Butt similarly found the play "timely," saying that it catches the audience "in a neat moral trap'' by making them "confront choices that most would presumably leave to the inhabitants of remote and less favored countries."
Among the many Latin American countries which in recent decades have similarly experienced periods of military rule (Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia), Argentina and Chile are often compared to one another because of their shared history and close geographical proximity in the "Southern Cone'' of South America. Both Chile, following Augusto Pinochet's military coup, and Argentina, in the years of the military's "Dirty War," were characterized by civil repression, extra-judicial abductions and "disappearances," torture, and murder. Familiarity with the modern history of these two countries provides a good basis of understanding for the context of Death and the Maiden.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century in Chile, the political climate swung often between right and left with no government strong enough to effect large scale change. Infrastructure developed slowly and rural poverty became an increasing problem, along with rapid urbanization as desperate populations flooded the city. Some social reforms were achieved in the 1960s, but Chile's politics became increasingly polarized and militant Salvador Allende crept to presidential victory in 1970 with a leftist coalition of socialists, communists, and extremists. Allende's sweeping economic reforms included the state takeover of many private enterprises; the United States was angered by the confiscation of U.S.-controlled copper mines and Chile's openly friendly relationship with Cuba, a country with whom America had ceased diplomatic and economic ties.
The Chilean military, in a coup orchestrated by General Augusto Pinochet, seized power on September 11, 1973, using air force jets to bomb the presidential palace. ( U.S. support of the coup through the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] has been documented.) Allende died, apparently a suicide, and thousands of his supporters were killed. Pinochet, at the head of a four-man ruling junta (a group or council that controls a government), dissolved Chile's congress and repressed—often violently—political opposition. His government maintained power for the next decade and a half, frequently resorting to terror (including the abduction/tortures to which Paulina was subjected) in order to suppress dissent.
A peaceful transfer of presidential power was achieved in 1990 but considerable tension continued between the military and the government concerning the human rights violations of the Pinochet era. Under a constitution written during his regime, Pinochet himself remained army commander until stepping down in March, 1998. Yet after that time he still retained congressional influence with the title of senator for life. Chilean society continues to struggle with the violent legacy of its past, although current president Eduardo Frei has sped the process of reconciliation by accelerating human rights tribunals and inquiries into Chile's "disappeared" (through commissions like the one to which Gerardo has been appointed in Death and the Maiden).
Chile's neighbor, Argentina, has likewise seen frequent suppression of democratic processes. The country experienced its first coup in 1930, the government falling toacoalitionof military officers and civilian aristocrats who established a semi-fascist state following the growing trend of fascism in Europe. The military undertook a more forceful coup in 1943, one which set out to restructure Argentine culture totally. The goal this time was not the mere suppression of political radicals but the complete eradication of civilian politics. There were to be five more coups between 1943 and 1976, the year in which the military initiated the brutality known as the Dirty War. During this period, Argentina's most influential ruler was Colonel Juan Peron, first elected to the presidency in 1946.
Peron was different from his military predecessors in that he sought to integrate the urban working class into his party, although his government retained a strong hand on more hard-line radicalism. Peron's partner in everything during the early years of his presidency was his mistress, later his wife, Eva Duarte—known popularly as Evita (composer Andrew Lloyd Weber and lyricist Tim Rice would immortalize her in their 1978 musical Evita). She had cunning political instinct, upon which Peron grew to rely. When the military threw Peron over in 1955, many of the social changes he and Evita had initiated remained in place. The legacy of Evita (she died of cancer in 1952), combined with the knowledge that Peron was alive in exile, empowered many to adhere to Peronist ideals, despite the military's attempts to suppress them. Peron was resurrected in 1973 as the economic situation in Argentina continued to worsen, and the public, looking for some positive way out of the military regimes, enthusiastically welcomed his return; he died a mere eight months into his new term as president.
A coup on March 24, 1976, overthrew Peron's widow Isabel, president since his death, and a military junta composed of the three commanders in chief of the armed forces installed itself as the government. In the years between the coup and the resumption of democratic elections in 1983, the military fought a vicious and covert war against the people of Argentina, totally restructuring society to eradicate any political consciousness. A system of clandestine concentration camps, numbering over three hundred at their peak, provided the center of an all-out policy of abduction, torture, murder, and disposal. Estimates of the dead run as high as thirty thousand, and the lives of the survivors were left destroyed in other ways. As in Chile, following a tenuous return to democracy Argentine society at large continues to struggle with the issue of how to rectify the violence of the past. Activists such as Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo (who daringly initiated protests against the military government while it was still in power) maintain pressure on the current government to investigate human rights abuses, although punishment for many of the perpetrators remains unlikely.
Playwright, essayist, novelist, poet, and short story writer Ariel Dorfman was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina , on May 6, 1942, the son of an economist and a literature teacher. His life illustrates the fragmented experience of the modern Latin American exile. At the age of two, his family was forced to flee to the United States because of his father's opposition to the Argentine government of Juan Peron. Dorfman's father was one of the architects of the United Nations, and the family lived in New York for ten years before leaving in 1954, during the McCarthy era, to settle in Chile. Completing a University education, Dorfman became a naturalized Chilean citizen in 1967. Working for the next several years as a journalist and activist, he published several works, including a study of the plays of Harold Pinter ( The Homecoming).
A supporter of Chilean President Salvador Allende, Dorfman was forced into exile after a military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet seized control of the country in 1973. He intermittently lived in Argentina, France, the Netherlands , and eventually settled in the United States (in 1980), holding a variety of academic posts in each of the countries. In 1984 he became a professor at Duke University in Durham , North Carolina, where he maintains a part-time residence. Remaining active in Chile's political and social affairs while in exile, Dorfman first tried to return home to Chile in 1983 yet felt uncomfortable in the environment there. He tried a part-time return in 1986, but the following year, he was stopped at Santiago airport, detained, and then deported. Dorfman returned to Chile again in 1989. Following Pinochet's abdication to a popularly-elected president in 1990, the playwright attempted to re-establish a semi-permanent residence in his adopted homeland.
Dorfman's writings have been translated into over twenty languages. Like many other Latin American authors, he is also a social critic who investigates the relationship between politics and culture. He is the author of important essays and works of cultural criticism— How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (1975), Culture and Resistance in Chile (1978) and The Empire's Old Clothes (1980)—which argue that popular literatures promote capitalist and neo-imperial ideology and encourage passivity. Dorfman has additionally written literary works in a variety of forms. His collections of short stories include The Medicine Goes Down (1985) and My House Is on Fire (1979) which examines how people retain a sense of hope living under an oppressive military regime. Dorfman's novels have been praised for their highly original narrative techniques. The Last Song of Manuel Sendero (1987) combines several different perspectives, including those of cartoon characters and the unborn. Mascara (1988) explores human identity and the paranoia created by authoritarian regimes. Dorfman's many collections of poetry include Missing (1982) and Last Waltz in Santiago and Other Poems of Exile and Disappearance (1986). In the theater—besides his success with Death and the Maiden (1991)—Dorfman has created stage adaptations of his novel Widows (1981) and his short story "Reader" (1979).
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