When further inspecting the major themes of Ariel Dorfman’s Death And the Maiden, the most prominent one was the notion that this cycle of violence and injustice is inescapable. This cycle is simply a closed circle, constantly continuing around and around until someone makes the active choice to break the norm and begin the cycle of forgiveness. Yet, Dorfman raises the question that seemingly no one tends to think about: why is it the victims responsibility to be the one ending this cycle. At the culmination of Act II Scene I, Paulina wrestles with putting her own needs above the decision to break the cycle: “And why does it always have to be the people like me who have to sacrifice, why are we always the ones who have to make concessions when something has to be conceded, why always me who has to bite her tongue, why? Well, not this time. This time I am going to think about myself, about what I need.” I included this whole quote to further stress just how this cycle is able to continue, by everyone having their own idea of what justice is. In this case, Paulina equates justice to the death of her rapist/doctor, while her husband Gerardo equates justice to having the accused go through the proper channels of a trial. Yet, even if Paulina chooses to perform her definition of “justice”, who’s to say that it is her responsibility to allow this doctor to have a proper channel. For in certain societies a “proper” trial is nothing more than a sham, and in this one (which had recently just emerged from underneath totalitarian rule), the people’s faith in the justice system seems low. When one loses faith in the only system known to solely be meant to bring justice and balance to society, this is all but solidifying the overall cycle of injustice perpetrating throughout the land.
One thought on “Is There A Way To Break The Cycle of Injustice?”
Interesting point. I wonder whether one could make an argument (which is to say, I guess, that I wonder whether Paulina would make the argument) that doing things Gerardo’s way *also* runs the risk of perpetuating a cycle of injustice, since we know from the outset that his way will absolutely not address what happened to Paulina nor hold anyone responsible for their actions!