This essay sample essay on Woyzeck Summary offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion are provided below.
The wise saying goes, “They do not have enough money for the funeral rites; God, let not the poor persons die!” Woyzeck is based on a true story. To meet the ends of justice, a poor person was executed for stabbing his wife, Marie, to death. This incident inspired Buchner to create an artistic masterpiece in the form of a drama.
But not all the characters therein, are historical figures. Great personalities leave some or the other controversies behind them. Buchner is no exception. He died in 1837 even before giving the final shape to Woyzeck, and he left behind four unpolished manuscripts, that stand as witness to his creativity “Buchner suggests that, were they not poor and downtrodden, Woyzeck and Marie might be as great as the biblical figures with which he associates them.
His allusions to Christ and Mary only heighten the sense that Woyzeck and Marie’s shameful actions are not part of their nature but rather, products of an unjust social structure.”(Grade Saver…) They say, “God loves those who die young.” This seems to be true about George Buchner (1813-1837).He died at the young age of 24.He was born in the small own of Goddelau, in Hessen, Gemany. His father was a rationalist and a scientist. When he was undergoing medical training at Strasbourg in 1831, he was secretly engaged to Minna Jaegle, the daughter of a pastor.
From a political activist, his interest later turned to theatre. Woyzeck was his ultimate effort, where his political philosophy, spiritual inclinations with scientific approach is mirrored. Though not a playwright by profession, he is hailed as the provider of a great source for modern drama. Buchner was far ahead of his time and what he wrote is considered as all-time great. It has the universal appeal and transcends the narrow boundaries that restrict human thinking. “He is said to have precipitated in a wide and far-reaching array of literary movements including: “Naturalism, Social Realism, Psychological Irrationalism, Expressionism, and Existential Theatre.” As Herbert Lindenberger phrases it, he is “perhaps the only German writer before our own [20th] century who speaks directly to our time without the need of mediation.” George Buchner died of an undiagnosed fever, probably typhus, at the age of 23 on February 19, 1837.(Grade Saver: Classic Note…)“Many scholars consider the play the first modern drama, and mark it as the catalyst for countless theatrical movements, most notably Naturalism and the modern Theatre of the Absurd. Buchner’s biting social commentary in the play, which stemmed from his own political disillusionment, anticipates Karl Marx’s theories although it rejects the possibility of revolution or a classless utopia.”(Schmidt, 1969)
Woyzeck is the work of “psychological realism.” The uncertainty, about which one is the authentic version, provides a fertile field for the scholars to argue and counter-argue. As for every detail related to the play, they have disagreements. Whether it is order of the scenes, the ending, the scholars are baffled at Buchner’s style. Each scene is structurally independent. His approach and reaction to the social conditions prevailing then is cynical. Most of the scholars agree that the scene where the Grandmother tells her ‘black fairy tale’ as the play’s thematic keystone. As many scholars, so many varied interpretations about Buchner’s beliefs, reasoning and mental make-up–He visualizes nothing but gloom and pessimism, disillusionment and solitude, the independent scenes succeed in building a coherent whole, the scientific approach, sharp social criticism and the bold and dispassionate approach. Each character has the purpose and the essential dignity and at the same time they compliment and contrast the protagonist’s traits etc. That the scholars agree to disagree on many issues related to the play is the hall mark of the genius.
Woyzech is a tough play to produce. Ingmar Bergman succeeded in his efforts to remove the blackouts in the play, by integrating the audience. “Austrian composer Alban Berg finished his opera version of the play, Wozzeck, in 1922, and it was first performed in 1925. In order to retain Buchner’s disjointed, melancholic feel, Berg makes extensive use of atonality and rejects the standard forms of aria and trio in favor of abstract instrumental music. Wozzeck has since become a standard and widely performed work in the world of opera. In addition, many film versions of the play have been produced, most notably Werner Herzog’s 1979 version starring Klaus Kinski and Eva Mattes, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.” (Grade Saver: Full Summary-)
What does the play mean to me?
Woyzeck is the same old story through the ages-the struggle between the haves and the have-nots! I see this story as the hard depiction of the atrocities of the rich on the poor. The class conflicts and the belief of the rich that they are born to rule and the economically backward deserve ill treatment! Can one expect the leader representing such a class to be full of sweet emotions? Certainly not! He is ever ready to hit back, on behalf of his class, the rich and the haughty, those who conduct the show of systematic debasement and spiritually murder the downtrodden. E. F. Schumacher, in his book “Small is beautiful” goes to the root cause of this never ending conflict between the rich and the poor. “The existence of inordinate rich people in any society today is a very great evil. Some inequalities of wealth and income are no doubt ‘natural’ and functionally justifiable. Excessive wealth, like power, tends to corrupt. Even if the rich are not ‘idle rich,’ even when they work harder than anyone else, they work differently; apply different standards, and are set apart from common humanity. They corrupt themselves by practicing greed and they corrupt the rest of the society by provoking envy.”(Schumacher, 1977, Back Cover…)
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely! Study the attitude of the Drum Major. Even the rustic Marie, when it comes to describe the animal instincts of her latest lover, the Drum Major uses the phrases like, “He stands on his feet like a lion(scene II) and the more close and intimate description, “ a chest like a bull and a beard like a lion.”(Scene VI). The street-fighter’s image in the Drum Major is showing, when he describes Marie at the first sight of her, that she is “good enough for the propagation of cavalry regiments and the breeding of drum majors!”(Scene III) He addresses her as if he is the ultimate authority on her personal life, when he calls her “You wildcat!”(Scene VI).How can a man bear his woman’s infidelity? Woyzeck is totally frustrated and in great anguish he says, “Why doesn’t God blow out the sun so that everything can roll around in lust, man and woman, man and beast. They’ll do it in broad daylight; they’ll do it on our hands, like flies.” (Scene XI). Animal imagery especially surrounds Woyzeck himself, in his interactions with the characters who oppress and dehumanize him. The Captain ridicules this poor soldier with meanness about Marie’s unfaithfulness. As Woyzeck rushes our, he says, “that tall rascal takes off like the shadow before a spider.”(Scene IX).The Doctor is even more ruthless on Woyzeck. The Doctor throws a cat from his window, and when Woyzeck catches it, observes, “The fellow holds onto the beast s tenderly, like it was his own grandmother!” The so-called higher class of the society like the Captain, the Drum Major and the Doctor speaking mean language indicates the level of the morals prevailing in the society then.
My approach to the play as the playwright:
The important part of the play is the play- writer and his script. The characters are brought to life by the intelligent scriptwriter of the play. Whether minor or major, the characters need to speak appropriate to the occasion, and contribute to the continuity of the play. The main problem with Woyzeck has been its disjointedness. Blackouts have no place in a well-knit play. Those who addressed to this problem have successfully staged the play. The technique employed by Ingmar Bergman to keep a lively interaction between the audience and the actors of the play contribute to the success of the play. A good script can only strike the homogenous balance between the actors and the audience. Whatever is the time, whatever is the period, the two constant factors in a play are the actors (in the broad sense, they can be musicians and instrument players) in the play and the audience. It is the duty and skill of the former to keep the later pleased, as their report counts for demand of more and more repeat performances of the play. As a playwright, I have enough scenes that can be depicted with telling effect and make the audience rise on their toes. For example, unable to bear the mental torture from his superior authorities, Woyzeck becomes like the captain in a hapless shipwreck. He loses his mental balance and throws up the towel and stops thinking. Obviously his mind does not work and he is an emotional burden to himself.
He gives into hallucinations. He hears the ground whispering,” stab — stab the bitch to death? Stab — stab the bitch to death…. Do I hear it over there, is the wind saying it too? It goes on and on — stab her to death… to death.” (Scene XII) “According to Buchner, the poor are the purest class because they are untainted by pretension and laziness. Even though this also makes them unrefined and animalistic, it is preferable to the kind of stuffy inaction or moral depravity represented by the middle-class figures like the Captain, Doctor, and Drum-Major. Woyzeck’s poverty also connects him more deeply to the character of Christ; after all, the latter was a humble carpenter who was still capable of the greatest and holiest things.” (Grade Saver: Woyzeck –Full Summary…) I entirely agree with the observations of Buchner in the play. When the society is ruled by greed and envy of the middle and rich class, the poor can not be their competitors. From where would the poor get the fighting spirit when curry for the night is worry for the morning and tomorrow’s bread is not assured from today’s labor! When their individual dignity stands punctured at every level and every stage of their lives! The poor are the practical people and they are the purest class. They are not lazy and bifacial. But to live in perennial poverty is the root cause of their emotional suffering and criminal tendencies.