Schiller justifies his belief in a so-called "rational totality" of history with the continuous and unchangeable unity of human nature, which forms the basis for the similarities between ancient and modern-day events NA In other words, understanding human nature is crucial to understanding human history. And history is relevant to Schiller only as long as it sheds light on the dark recesses of the human soul. My reading of Schiller's "Die Sendung Moses" intends to provide insights into the author's ambivalent stance toward humanism in the context of Enlightenment ideology.
This article seeks to reveal the connections between Schiller's foundational assumptions about human nature, his dramatic oeuvre, his approach as a universal historian, and his use of biblical sources for his aesthetic pursuits.
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Of particular interest is the question of whether it is possible to preserve the rights of the individual in a society that is guided by abstract principles of truth. This question ties into the larger debate about the dialectic of the Enlightenment that-as some would argue-already began during Schiller's time and continues to this day: namely, whether the pursuit of Enlightenment ideas could lead to a tyranny of reason and the perversion of abstract, ethical principles, such as freedom, truth, and honor Borchmeyer An unknown error has occurred.
Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Read preview. As in Papa Hamlet and Der erste Schultag the point of view adopted is the obviously relative one of a limited character, whose own delusions contribute to his personal tragedy. The story is one which Hauptmann takes up again in his drama Fuhrmann Henschel, that of a man unable to reconcile the spiritual and the sensual aspects of his personality, represented by his first and second wives, and failing in his attempt to order his life in such a way that they are kept strictly apart.
He devotes the hours he has to spend in the lonely silence of the countryside to the memory of his dead wife, Minna, and tries to contain the more physical Lene in the home environment. Es kam ihm vor, als habe er etwas ihm Wertes zu verteidigen, als versuchte jemand sein Heiligstes anzutasten VI, 50f. It had suddenly occurred to him that Lene would frequently be coming out to see to the land, which was bound to disturb his customary way of life considerably. And at once his joy in the possession of this land turned into revulsion. He scarcely knew why, but the prospect of having Lene with him at work for whole days became more and more unbearable, however much he tried to reconcile himself to it.
It was as if he had something valuable to defend, as if someone were trying to encroach on that which was most sacred to him. In this way the symbolic meaning of the story is skilfully integrated in the psychological motivation of the central character.
However to integrate it in the psychology of this character is to render it suspect; yet there is no explicit statement of suspicion and no irony in the actual narrative; the story-teller identifies himself completely with the symbolism. He is a character who is open to the same hostile treatment as Thienwiebel received in Papa Hamlet. By profession a cobbler, Kopelke is also an old quack who offers advice and assistance to the family of the dying child, Linchen Selicke.
He is evidently not motivated by anything but the impulse of a good-natured old man to help this wretched family, but he cannot help basking in the illusion of status that his role gives him, as the following passage rather subtly suggests: FRAU SELICKE…. Se wissen ja!
Ick kennt jo wat bei verdienen! Ick…nu ja! Ick bin nu mal so! Wissen Se? You know! I could earn a lot like that! But you see…do I want to? Me…ah well! You know what? The main thing now is just keep her nice and warm! You see the rest will take care of itself! In its basic situation Die Familie Selicke closely resembles the Papa Hamlet sketches; once again the authors choose a subject which expresses the complete helplessness of the individual in the face of his environment.
The play was criticized by Carl Spitteler one of its more sympathetic critics for the monotony engendered by the lack of progress between the first and second acts, both of which open with the family waiting despairingly for the homecoming of Selicke. There is nothing wrong with the conception of Die Familie Selicke at this point. This state of nervous and anxious waiting need not be a dull and monotonous experience for reader or audience, for it is an artistically adequate expression of the predicament of the characters involved; and the message of the play is that the predicament of a family sitting at home, waiting, impotent, dependent, and imprisoned, can be a predicament of wide representative significance and interest.
If the play is looked at in this way the fate of Toni Selicke becomes more poignant, and its social implications more evident.
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She is the only character who is offered any chance of escape, the possibility of marriage to the Kandidat, Wendt, and retreat from the loathsome city to a comfortable country parsonage this particular nuance is recognizably a contribution of Schlaf Indirectly, but no less effectively for that, critical light is cast on the institution of marriage in a society where woman is tied to the family, and where it is thus 34 Die Familie Selicke Berlin: Issleib, , p.
The situation does not, however, permit Toni to make a free choice; with the death of her younger sister, Linchen, she feels an obligation to stay with her parents, and keep the home together. The objection that this is an unlikely decision in the circumstances cannot be sustained; it is a very likely decision because it is shown to be hardly a conscious decision at all, and certainly not an exemplary moral one. Holz and Schlaf are capable of revealing complex psychological motivation through very ordinary sounding language. At the same time their drama is based on a subtle analysis of social and, especially, family structures in Wilhelmine Germany.
In Die Familie Selicke, however, this level is not sustained. The play, if we consider its impact as a whole, does not confine itself to the analysis of an experience of isolation and the unmasking of false consciousness, it forcefully invites its audience to spare some sympathy for a family cut off by poverty from the happiness and especially the Christmas festivities of the world outside.
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In the final scene Wendt emerges as a 37 Cf. Deadly serious! And do you know why, my dear Toni? Because there are people like you! Among the characters the two sons, Walter and Albert, are quite finely drawn and differentiated, but the nagging mother, the drunken father, and the sceptical Kandidat are from stock. To conclude, all the characters assemble to form a tableau in the conventional manner Kopelke having conveniently returned , and they hear Wendt make the comforting announcement that he will return.
Ein Tod shows that Holz and Schlaf could use this style without any directly sentimental appeal and without such manifest concessions to traditional literary forms.
As it is, these weaknesses are a reminder that, even in what are regarded as their most extreme moments, the German Naturalists can be very uncertain and timid. Die Familie Selicke, p. This style involved the accurate reproduction of everyday speech, and the precise inventory of physical detail; in his early theory Holz rationalized this into the doctrine of mimetic naturalism.
But as Holz turned his attention to the more evidently personal genre, the lyric, it became increasingly apparent that he felt the need of this newly-won precision to express his own individual and unique sensations; he began to make the same demands on language as were made by Rilke in Das Stundenbuch: Ich glaube an alles noch nie Gesagte. The preoccupation of German Naturalist theorists with the precision of language is not just an indication of their concern over the distortion of nature by art, but it is part and parcel of an individualism which influences their outlook over the widest area.
Most of the writers associated with the Naturalist movement in Germany were born around Young, idealistic, and not particularly wealthy, the natural alliance for these writers was with the underprivileged, with the people who found themselves on the fringes of society the waitress is a favourite figure in the novels of the s.
These newcomers soon perceived that they were in a society whose higher ranks were indifferent, if not hostile, to the less fortunate. Heynen Berlin: Stilke, , pp. In certain instances this had meant the revival of traditional popular festivals, but this was not the aim of the members of the Berlin discussion-club, the Alte Tante, who approached Bruno Wille in The leadership selects the plays to be performed and the actors. The members pay a quarterly subscription which entitles them to a theatre seat for three performances. All this suggests that the s were a period of fruitful and harmonious collaboration between the Naturalist movement and the organized working classes, which is superficially true.
The effect of these laws within the Social Democratic Party had been to encourage centralization, to close the ranks, and discourage public controversy. Internal disputes, such as criticisms of the Gotha Programme of , were left in abeyance; and because of the restrictions on the Party as a whole the parliamentary party in the Reichstag was able to establish itself as the official voice of the Party leadership.
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The Party actually came through the period with an immensely increased voting strength: , when the laws were imposed, and 1,, in , when Bismarck failed to have them extended further. This was an impressive achievement, and many contemporaries were duly impressed; Fontane wrote in a letter to James Morris: Alles Interesse ruht beim vierten Stand.
So liegt es nicht. One would say this even if it were only a question of aspirations and beginnings. But it is not so. What the workers think, say, write, has really outdated the thinking, speaking, and writing of the ruling classes. Everything is more genuine, more vigorous. The working classes attack everything in a new way; not only are their ends new, but also their means. There can, I think, be little doubt that the success of the socialist movement during these years contributed to the optimistic—often 8 It was in connection with this enterprise that Hauptmann was called as a witness in the Breslau treason trial of Max Kretzer is a writer usually associated with the Naturalist movement; yet his novel Die beiden Genossen is a decidedly conservative work.
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It is, in fact, a defence of older values against the assault of organized socialism. Equally at odds with socialism was the ambivalent attitude of the Naturalists towards Bismarck. Heynen, pp.
Such an attitude clearly went hand in hand with the attitude adopted increasingly in the latter part of the s towards the work and personality of Zola and Ibsen; not surprisingly it was accompanied during these same years by a growing interest in the ideas of Nietzsche. At the end of the play he sees his own position as unproblematical: for him his defection from Helene is consistent with both his struggle for the general good and his refusal to become a traitor to himself.
See also Felix A. In this way a man will have more time and energy to devote to the cultivation of what really makes him a man. But by a quarrel was brewing. Throughout the period of the anti-socialist legislation the parliamentary party had followed a policy of restraint and moderation, rejecting anarchism and violence, and carefully not provoking any further repressive measures. The aims of the rebels were confused: the most articulate were hostile to the idea of the State as such, held individualistic or anarchistic views, and were critical of the increasingly centralized organization of the Social Democratic Party.
At the same time there was a great deal of resentment between the local party leaders—many of them young men who had risen very quickly in the hierarchy—and the older, more experienced, and more cautious national leaders, who wished to reassert their authority in the new situation, and who were particularly anxious that radical minority views should not be allowed to jeopardize this new situation. In a very stormy general meeting on 12 October , Paul Dupont a trades union representative demanded a greater number of workers on the committee, and questioned the need for any intellectuals at all.