You could talk about how women are represented in the book and how feminism might be an important theme of the book:
- In the first act we see how Paulina can’t raise her voice against Gerardo, and how she can’t make any decisions by herself For example she lends the car jack to her mom without asking Gerado first. When Gerado figures out he says “While I can go fuck myself”. Him swearing in front of her shows that he doesn’t seem to have respect towards Paulina. He also says “Tomorrow you can make us a nice breakfast.” This not only shows disrespect but it also represent the typical stereotypes of men and women: Men go to work, while women stay at home to clean the house, cook, etc. Gerado also sometimes talks to Paulina in a way as if she was a baby (“Baby you can’t do this”). This could show that Gerado thinks that Paulina is much weaker than Gerado. It could also suggest that, in Gerardo’s opinion, Paulina is incapable of taking care of herself. We also see how Paulina is still trapped in the past and incapable of moving forwards, which further creates a weak image.
- Towards the end of Act 1 and for pretty much the end of the book Paulina is in possession of a gun. Through the gun she gains power and is able to raise her voice against Gerado & Roberto. She threatens Roberto (“Tell him, if he doesn’t confess I’ll kill him” for example). She threatens to kill herself in order to get what she wants (“I’ll put the gun in my mouth and pull the trigger”). By threatening Gerado and Roberto she makes them fear her, which gives her even more power. By threatening them she also achieves her goals (Roberto’s confession etc).
- By showing how Paulina starts to be able to her voice the author makes feminism an important theme of the play. He could even reveal himself as a feminist. Through Death and the Maiden he wants to show that women should be treated equally and that women can be as powerful (or even more powerful then) men. The play is most likely to take place in Chile, and in Chile the idea of gender roles is widespread and Ariel Dorfman is from Chile. By that he might wanted to “talk” to the population of Chile (through DatM) and show that everyone should be treated equally and that gender does that matter