Death and the Maiden
The play Death and the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman has many similarities with the first movement of Franz Schuberts quartet Death and the Maiden due the various aspects of the movement that reflect the tone of the play, the relationship between Paulina and Gerardo, as well as the theme of justice versus vengeance. The most significant aspects of the movement that can be related to the Death and the Maiden are the dynamics of the piece along with the light versus dark tone, which are in direct correspondence to the tone of the play. It also emphasizes the theme of justice versus vengeance because it stresses the readers constant struggle to decide whether Paulinas actions are driven by justice or vengeance. It is significant that the first movement is written in cadence, because it essentially replicates the interactions between Paulina and Gerardo. All of the musical elements in the movement correspond to the key characters and ultimately give the ready a more fully rounded perception of their roles in the play in relation to on another as well as their role in developing the theme.
The tone of the play very closely resembles the dark and ominous tone of the movement due to the continuously changing volume and intensity of the sound to emphasize Paulina and Gerardos unhealthy and unpredictable relationship. The light high pitched, and rather delicate violin playing relates to Gerardos caring and benevolent tone of voice when talking to Paulina. He soothes her with words such as Poor little love. It mustve got cold and If you knew how much I love you. as he takes her in his arms. This signifies that Gerardo mainly takes on the role of Paulinas caretaker and protector. However soon enough, the delicate violin is contrasted as it crescendos to a climax and is dramatized with the addition of the strong and dominant cello. This darkened tone underlines Paulinas ferocity and anger. She clearly lacks the element of trust in their relationship, and constantly answers Gerardo in a no less than rude manner. When Gerardo explains that he is not in the mood for arguing, she bitterly replies, You were supposed to do it and questions his loyalty by remarking I knew that youd find someone to help you out. Was she pretty at least? Sexy?. The reader quickly establishes that Paulina is a woman that takes pride in her power, while she attempts to cover up her vulnerability and weakness. When the movement slowly transitions back into a soft and lighthearted tone, Paulina succumbs to Gerardos sincerity and love. She finally gives in when she says, Yes. Yes. Yes, while, fiercely holding on to him. The rapidly changing speed, dynamics and instruments provide a thorough perspective on Paulina and Gerardos unstable relationship.
Whether or not Paulina puts Roberto on trial because she wants to bring the crime he has committed to justice, or for her personal satisfaction continues to linger on as the movement transitions from a graceful to a more violent and rapid melody. However, because the movement is written in a minor key, Paulinas acts of violence are emphasized more vividly due to the overall aggressive sentiment of the movement. This makes it clear that although Paulina attempts to justify her actions, she ultimately seeks justice, which is fueled by vengeance. Paulinas first acts of revenge are directly correlated to the threatening melody and tone of the movement when she takes off her panties and stuffs it into Robertos mouth. This is very significant because it takes away Robertos voice, which breaks one of two bonds that Paulina has with Roberto, leaving Schuberts quartet Death and the Maiden to define their relationship. The music is dark and ominous, stressing the pain that was inflicted on Paulina. The gag also brings forth a feminist movement symbolized by the panties. Paulina uses the power she gains from the gun to abuse Roberto and make him feel weak and helpless in the same way he made her feel. In Schuberts quartet this is portrayed through the dark, yet slightly gentle melody that is overlapped by the steady beat of the cello. Robertos helplessness is represented as the soft, melancholic melody, contrasting Paulinas power that is represented as the strong and steady cello as an undertone. Ultimately, the intensity in the movement stresses the desperate acts of justice by Paulina that are however, clearly fueled by vengeance.
The first movement of Schuberts quartet has a clear and coherent affiliation with the play Death and the Maiden, written by Ariel Dorfman due to the volatility of the music that represents the unstable relationship between Paulina and Gerardo, as well as the theme of justice versus vengeance. The transitions between the delicate and the threatening tone of the violin, replicate the contrasting interactions between Gerardo and Paulina. The harmonious melody stresses their love and content while the explosive melodies of the violin accentuates their frequent altercations. Although the quartet clearly transitions between a light and violent tone, the movement is ultimately trumped by the overwhelming and powerful volume and intensity of the climax of the violin, as well as the overall morose mood created by the d minor key. Due to this overall dark tone, it is clear that vengeance plays a more prominent role in Robertos trial. Paulina longs for the satisfaction gained from using the power she possesses to inflict the same pain on Roberto that he once inflicted on her. Dorfmann stresses her gratification from seeking vengeance by allowing her to once again live her life freely because she is able to listen to [her] Schubert again. Schuberts quartet furthers the readers understanding of the characters and themes in the play Death and the Maiden because the music extenuates the inconsistency as well as the instability of Paulina and Gerardos relationship, and it facilitates the understanding that Paulinas longing for vengeance surmounts all the willingness to seek justice.