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Published: 08-10-2019

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Analysis of Sexuality in "Spring Awakening" by Frank Wedekind

In the foreword to an early translation of the play ‘Spring Awakening’ by Frank Wedekind, his translator Francis J. Ziegler stated that Wedekind’s thesis for the play was “that it is a fatal error to bring up young children, either boys or girls, in ignorance of their sexual nature.” (The Awakening of Spring. Foreword.) From the outset of this play, an audience can begin to recognize exactly what inspired this belief. Wedekind wrote the play as an attack on the societal pretense, repression, and hypocrisy around which he had been raised, specially in terms of attitudes towards sexuality and morality. His perform was frequently regarded as pornographic and, as a result, was censored. By way of complex characters and really frank and unabashed scenes, Wedekind depicts an unmistakable hyperlink among sexuality and authority, and the corruption of youth that this link brings about.

On the dedication Wedekind gave the play to parents and teachers, Emma Goldman wrote that “parents and teachers are, in relation to the child’s needs, the most ignorant and mentally indolent class”. (Goldman 64) When discussing the role of authority in the sexual improvement of young children, one particular would do effectively to appear very first at the sexuality of the authority itself, how this sexuality has a significant effect on the identity of the authority, and how it manifests in relation to teaching, disciplining, and raising a youngster. One more integral aspect of the play, which supplies the most shock and provocation, is the sexuality of the youngsters themselves, with out which there would be no story.

The sexuality of the authoritarian roles in the play is not extensively explored, but is notable nonetheless and integral to the exploration of the relationship among authority and sexuality. Frau Bergmann completely demonstrates the energy of authority more than sexuality when speaking with her daughter, “I haven’t acted any differently towards you than my dear, good mother did toward me.” The concern of holding on to childhood ignorance is revealed as being an inherited habit sexuality has become an unmentionable as a result of generations teaching their children that it is not to be discussed. Frau Bergmann is not prepared to abandon her morality for the sake of informing her child of the facts of life, and as an audience, we cannot fairly condemn her. Her reluctance to educate her daughter sexually is not necessarily negligent. In the context of the time and location in which she has located herself raising a child, she is only acting in a way she believes to be most advantageous, as her mother did just before her despite modern day opinion, she has Wendla’s greatest interest at heart. In a society that believed that the truth of human reproduction would corrupt a child or even an adolescent, Bergmann is actually an instance of sound parenting. Additionally, as a member of the 19th century middle class, Frau Bergmann herself would have been sexually repressed, regardless of becoming in a committed marriage. It was believed that sex was an indulgent excess, and that sex for the goal of pleasure, rather than solely for conception, was improper.

Authoritarian sexuality can also be examined by hunting at the attitudes of the characters towards the opposite sex. Martha’s father expresses a specifically unhealthy image of girls by suggesting to her that she is a whore since she has place a ribbon in her petticoat and attempted to express some femininity. This harsh treatment of his daughter is only an example for the audience of what would now be considered an practically far-fetched exaggeration of the scenario at hand it is not surprising, following watching this scene. that the youngsters in the play really feel repressed, with characters like Martha’s father in a position of authority. The irony of the scene lies in the reality that Martha is fully oblivious to his accusatory suggestion, as she is sexually ignorant and could not possibly comprehend what he implies. Martha’s father and other guys of his time and background have been guided by a somewhat detrimental thought of women it is almost reminiscent of the Freudian Madonna-Whore complicated. Ladies have been anticipated to be one particular of two unattainable ideals. On one hand, a woman could be the wholesome and pure mother, a ideal wife, virginal and untainted, prudish and in no way sexually indulgent or even sexually curious, which of course is not possible if she also was to be a conceiving mother. Currently, the female is forced to be ‘the fallen’. On the other hand, a lady could be deemed a hedonistic, decadent whore, selfish and powerful, the trigger of and blame for all manly sin. It was never ever regarded as that there could be a bridge among these two female representations: a lady could only be categorized as one or the other. Either way, by this logic, it was impossible for a lady to be satisfied with herself, considering that a woman was either the fallen or the falling.

These tips and opinions of the parents in the play, as taught to them by their parents, are subsequently passed on to the children of the play, to disastrous benefits, shown first to us in Martha’s father’s dramatic dismissal of her as getting a whore. She can not be the pure, wholesome female due to the fact she has behaved ‘self-indulgently’, so the only other selection is to work on the streets, in his opinion. The most dominant theme in the play is the causal force of the children’s sexual ignorance. Each youngster experiences changes and regular pubescent occurrences, but because of the lack of details they are provided by their teachers and parents, often assume the worse. For instance, Moritz expresses that he ‘thought [he] was incurable’ and believed that ‘[he] was suffering from an internal defect.’ When Wendla very first learns of her pregnancy, her very first reaction is one of confusion, ‘But it is just not achievable, Mother. I’m not even married.’ It becomes apparent all through the play that Wendla’s ignorance and naivety have a deep influence on her sexuality, and she begins to form an practically fetishized view of violence, even so subconscious it may be. These problems can be traced back to the basic problem of female self esteem in the play Wendla comes from a society which teaches her that self-adore is arrogant and unattractive, does not have faith in her personal thoughts and or opinions, and has been taught to think that it is right to doubt oneself. Martha asks Wendla, ‘Aren’t you proud of oneself Wendla?’ and she responds, ‘That would be silly’. The adolescent stirrings she is experiencing have no factual grounding, the sexual desire she feels (or what little she understands of it) is totally repressed, and so the confusion and emotional turmoil of puberty is only aggravating her currently fragile self-self-assurance.

As a outcome of this tumultuous state, Wendla starts to comprehend her sexuality as an extension of violence. She does not know any other way to manifest her sexuality, and so she becomes fascinated by the concept of fierce or cruel interactions. Wendla does not right away give Martha her sympathy when she tells Wendla that her parents have been beating her, but rather asks questions about how the beating is performed. She begs Melchior to beat her, just to know what it may possibly really feel like, right after telling him about her conversation with Martha about her physically abusive parents: “It makes me hot when she tells us about it.” This is a clear example of her powerful want for physical interaction or consideration violence is the only expertise she has (albeit second hand) of a person giving in to their natural human instincts and desires, and it is a much far more accessible idea for her than the concept of the fulfillment of sexual wish, specifically taking into consideration the reality that she is not even informed on the fundamental approach of reproduction. It is the authority in the play that is entirely to blame for the problems Wendla and her peers develop the sado-masochism trait is a learned behavior and the youngsters have been taught that sexual pleasure is to be associated with pain, guilt, and punishment.

In the first scene of the second act, Moritz tells Melchior of a fairy tale named ‘The Queen with No Head, which his Grandmother employed to inform him. He then explains that he keeps pondering about the headless girl, and when he sees a beautiful girl, he can not assist but envision her with no head. This story may appear harmless and anecdotal in the context of the play, but it speaks volumes about the state of Moritz’s coping mechanisms. Essentially, he seems to be subconsciously removing the ‘face’ of the girl (in other words, the emotional aspect of sexually driven thoughts) and focusing solely on the physical, because it’s the only component that he can comprehend. A figure of authority, albeit unbeknownst to that figure herself, instilled even this silly fairy tale in him, and influenced by a figure of authority, he does not doubt the tale, but uses it to cope since he is provided no other data or options. This fairy tale also reveals details about the social context and how it impacts the children’s sexuality the head of the physique can represent ‘polite’ society, typically a pretense or guise of civility and decorum. The decrease physique, which Moritz sees headless, can represent a physique controlled by the genitals, ignored and stifled by the society he lives in. His fairy tale has been described as an attempt to take away the feelings from sex and return to the simplistic nature of human sexual inclination, governed solely by physical wish.

Spring Awakening is a deeply complex net of characters and their psychological journeys via life and specially puberty. It is a potent comment on the ‘adult machine’ in terms of the corruption of youth, however it is also deeply somber and melancholy Wedekind should have identified the profound emotional impact his play would have on audiences, regardless of era. In spite of vast variations in the context of culture and history, the play remains shocking and relevant even today so extended as adolescents start the journey to adulthood and endure the process involved, this play will be intimate and provocative.



Performs Cited -Wedekind, Frank. Trans. Ziegler, Francis J. The Awakening of Spring. Philadelphia: Brown Brothers, 1910. Print. -Goldman, Emma. The Social Significance of Modern day Drama. New York: Cosimo, Inc., 2005. Print.
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