NATURALISM 9 superiors. He is shown to be dangerously in love with a pictur- esque maiden who helps his quaint old housekeeper with the housework; but he is in complete control of himself, though his kindly treatment of the girl is misconstrued. The play is a discus- sion of the moot topics of the day: marriages between Protestants and Catholics are shown to be natural, and above all the action drives home the moral that it is cruelty to priests to forbid them to marry. Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld is, therefore, at once a problem play, pointed social criticism, and an attack on dogma. Where it lags behind is in the naive technique; this is frankly melodramatic, but with its strange atmosphere as of a world of dream it is far removed from vulgarity. The peasants speak an easily intelligible dialect, and speak it naturally; here, too, Anzengruber is a pioneer. The characters of Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld are charming but child- like; the following plays show an advance in intensity of character- ization. The hero of Der Meineidbauer (1871) is a kind of village Richard III; there are sensational scenes, but the action grips; and the belief of the Meineidbauer that he is safe in sin carries him along in an inevitable course to destruction. Das vierte Gebot (1878) comes nearest of Anzengruber's plays to the naturalistic formulas, and was acknowledged by the naturalists as a masterpiece.1 It is as much an arraignment of existing morals as Sudermann's Sodoms Ende: a turner and his bawdy wife bring up their daughter as a whore, and their son ends as a murderer; another character sells his daughter to a rascal; such is the world in which people are bidden to obey the fifth2 commandment. There is the Shakespearian blending of comedy in Anzengruber's tragedies; in the comedies proper fun runs riot, and the quaint characters - they are like nothing on earth, but in their Tyrolese setting they are as real as goitre - are a perpetual delight. Die Kreu^elschreiber (1872) are villagers who have been persuaded to affix their crosses - they cannot write - to a document which is in intent an attack on Holy Church; the priest now orders the wives to withhold marital rights, and peace is only restored by the mother- wit of Steinklopferhanns, who tells the wives that their husbands are to make a pilgrimage to Rome - with the unmarried women of 1 It was far too modern for the Vienna of 1877 (the censor mangled it), and only began its victorious career when produced by the Freie Bicbne in Berlin in 1890. 2 The Lutheran Church has the Augustinian enumeration, with the first and second commandment run together.