Ariel Dorfman’s “Death and the Maiden” explores the story of a traumatized woman in a former totalitarian regime. The irony of this play is that Paulina’s husband, Gerardo, is in charge of the government’s Truth Commission, which investigates the crimes and horrors of the former dictatorship in an effort to bring forth the atrocities and guilty to the public eye for purposes of justice, yet he doesn’t believe his wife when she exposes the man who raped and tortured her. At his defense, Gerardo’s view of justice and the law stands as a barrier from allowing him to completely and undeniably believe his wife, as his job in the newly democratic government is to search for the truth through witnesses and testimony in a professional courtroom setting. However, his definition of justice, which is a pretty universal view of practiced law, inhibits him from listening to his wife and poses the question of whether or not trial courts expose the whole truth of these kinds of situations. It also poses the question on whether or not Paulina’s truth would even be valid within the official court system even though she is clearly certain that her truth is the only truth. Who is protected from the law in theory versus in practice?
2 thoughts on “What is truth?”
Very succinct identification of the central ironies of the play!
Thinking more about your post and also the point you brought up in class, it strikes me as so important to recognize the way in which Gerardo’s two roles – husband and attorney – come into direct conflict in this play. Great structural observation.