Paulina in “Death and the Maiden” is presented as fragile, but with swings of emotions. In Act 1 and 2 she goes from being submissive to attacking. It is presented through literary features, the description of the surroundings and the dialogue.
In the beginning of the play she is seen as threatened and disturbed. She is sitting alone in the dark, and is very scared when she hears her husband driving home. Her disturbance is seen by the description of the surroundings, as it talks about the sea and it’s state; which reflects well how she is feeling, it says “Sounds of the sea (...) Windows blowing in the wind”, this foreshadowing an upcoming storm, that the situation is unstable and inconginous; and it is “after midnight”, therefore the atmosphere is deep and dark, giving an atmosphere of threat, which she is in.
In scene 2 Paulina is seen as weak as “only the moonlight”, she is more vulnerable. However the scene after, “a cloud passes over the moon” and “sound of the sea rows, and recedes”, this present her state of mind as angry, but a growing anger. The idea of the moon and the sea is very powerful as both are associated with woman, and both are very uncontrollable, powerful and dark.
The scene after, Paulina is presented as calm and in control. She is no more the victim but has taken the place of the aggressor. “Paulina is sitting in front of him with a gun”, and it’s the first time she’s talked to Roberto since the beginning of the play, and instead of feeling scared and threatened as seen in the beginning “she stands behind the curtains”, she is feeling powerful and becomes more aggressive. He aggressiveness becomes more visible when she does a verbatim, and changes to the role of Dr Miranda, she victimises him by using words such as “bitch” and “cunt”; which give her power.
Paulina is also shown to be with an “in control” state of mind by being mocking. Upon feeling irritated by Roberto, instead of closing up like a victim “she laughs derisively”. She also lets them know that they are foolish to think they are more powerful and says “I’ll leave you men to fix the world”, showing that she knows for the most part that she is dominating, making her calm.