Analysis of ‘Death and the Maiden’, by Ariel Dorfman

Death and the Maiden

Death and the Maiden


Dorfman, Ariel


Dorfman, Ariel is an Argentine-Chilean-American essayist, novelist, academic, playwright and human rights activist. He was born on 6th May 1942 (age 75) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Three citizens named Paulina Salas and Gerardo Escobar and Dr.Roberto Miranda are citizens of a country trying to recover from after effects of a dictatorship that was very violent. One night Gerardo’s car breaks down and Roberto a kind stranger offers help to take him beach home. Gerardo’s wife recognizes the voice of the Dr. and is convinced that he is the same cruel jail doctor who subjected her to sexual torture and raped her 15 years ago after the secret Death and the Maidenpolice had abducted her.

She decides to mete out justice in her own brand and so kidnaps the doctor in the night and announces to her husband that she will be putting Roberto on trial for the crimes committed. Paulina’s attempt to gain vigilante justice horrifies Gerardo and tries convincing her to let the Dr go. Gerardo holds a good post in the government and feels threatened by actions Paulina would take. Paulina refuses to get convinced and threatens Gerardo that she would shoot herself and Roberto if he doesn’t back off. Gerardo convinces Roberto to confess that the accusations are false and accordingly makes Paulina record testimony of her torture and abduction, which he passes to Roberto secretly. Paulina after being freed from captivity finds her husband with another woman.

Death and the Maiden

In the meanwhile, based on the testimony Gerardo obtained from Paulina, a verbal and written confession is recorded by Roberto. First she agrees, asks Gerardo to get Roberto’s car and turns around towards Roberto with intent to kill him. She is fully convinced of his guilt after she deliberately checks out some points with him. Roberto begs her to spare him and while she demands why women victim have to restrain themselves always and then holds the gun pointing towards his head.