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German Literature. Search this site. Navigation Home. Guide Books. Parallel Texts. Hall of Fame. Early Modern. Web Links. Jeder Mensch ist ein Abgrund; es schwindelt einem, wenn man hinabsieht. The drama shows the murder of Marie by Woyzeck, a man suffering from hallucinations and sexual jealousy.

The final scene of draft H1 H1, 21 shows the authorities preparing the execution legal murder of Woyzeck. The play is based on the actual case of Johann Christian Woyzeck After serving in the Prussian army Woyzeck returned to his home city of Leipzig in There he began a relationship with Johanne Christiane Woost. He served a prison sentence lasting eight days.

Woyzeck stabbed Woost to death on the evening of 2 June He was immediately arrested and confessed to the crime.

The report was written after five interviews with Woyzeck and delivered to the court on 16 September Based on this report Woyzeck was sentenced to execution by decapitation. He interviewed Woyzeck five more times and delivered the new report on 28 February , which confirmed his earlier findings. Woyzeck was finally executed on 27 August Manuscript 1 is a folio set consisting of five booklets, which contain H1 and H2.

Manuscript 2 is a single sheet of quarto paper containing H3 just two scenes. Manuscript 3 is six pages folded to make six quarto-sized booklets; this is H4. H1 is the first version and H4 is the last version.

H1 consists of 21 scenes. In it, the main characters are called Louis and Margreth. Scenes are set in the fairground. Scenes develop the theme of jealousy. Scenes depict the murder and its aftermath.

H2 consists of 9 longer scenes. In H2 the characters of the Doctor and the Hauptmann Captain have been introduced. H2 ends with Louise praying alone; the murder is not depicted. H3 consists of only two scenes. Das Kind. The Child. This suggests that Woyzeck does not commit suicide after the murder, in contradiction to the first Karl Emil Franzos edition of H4 consists of 17 scenes. The main characters are now called Woyzeck and Marie. The murder is not shown. Some published versions, including the one on gutenberg.

H2 and H4 begin with Woyzeck and Andres in an open field, and so this should be used as the opening scene. The four drafts are reproduced in the two critical German editions listed below. The student edition edited by Dedner is particularly recommended. For a detailed analysis of the drafts, see Roland Borgards and Harald Neumeyer eds. Parataxis is the placing together of sentences, clauses or phrases without using conjunctive words, e. Here is an example of parataxis from the very beginning of Woyzeck , draft H Source: Woyzeck.

Studienausgabe , ed. Not available on gutenberg. The play does not say why Woyzeck murders Marie. Because a clear moral framework is lacking, Woyzeck contravenes the genre of tragedy, which clearly distinguishes between good noble and evil base, villainous actions. One of the central themes of this play is: to what extent is Woyzeck morally accountable for his actions? Aber, Herr Doktor, wenn einem die Natur kommt. Here Woyzeck excuses himself by implying that people are at the mercy of human nature, although when Marie sleeps with the Drum Major Tambourmajor Woyzeck fails to excuse her.

The question of moral accountability is related to the question of what distinguishes human beings from animals. This problem is implied by the intelligent horse in the fairground scene. The terse language of the play is perfectly suited to a world where mental imbalance and cruelty seem virtually omnipresent. The Hauptmann Captain has depression he becomes melancholic when he sees a mill wheel ; the Doctor seems delusional and sadistic; and the Tambourmajor is a vicious brute.

And yet it is hard not to love Woyzeck and Marie. The Austrian composer Alban Berg composed an opera inspired by the play: Wozzeck first performed Roland Borgards and Harald Neumeyer eds. Leben, Werk, Wirkung Stuttgart: Metzler, Woyzeck in German; click on a word for the English translation.


Woyzeck for ever

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Woyzeck Summary

W hich version of Woyzeck do you prefer? Play or opera? A bleeding dramatic torso or a tightly structured musical work? Fortunately, you don't have to make a choice. This autumn you can see two treatments of the same story. The juxtaposition should reveal a lot about the interaction of music and drama.


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The title character is a religious man preoccupied with sin and guilt. An army barber, he endures psychological humiliation by his captain and painful physical experimentation by his doctor to make extra money for Marie, his common-law wife, and their child. Filled with rage, he explodes into violence. The events, rather than appearing in definite chronological sequence, are presented as a series of related occurrences.

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