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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

26                     MODERN   GERMAN  LITERATURE

(Heldenlosigkeif) that since the drama portrays men, and since men
are weaklings, the purpose of the dramatist is not to weigh out
a calculated sum of "tragic guilt', but to arouse a tender pity for
pathetic humanity; life is tragic because it is life, not because it is
guilty.

But, since all the processes of art tend to become mechanical,
the naturalistic drama, from the start, adopts an external machinery
which makes it as stereotyped as the French classical drama. This
rigid framework is as gaunt as anywhere in Vor Sonnenaufgang. It is
an Analytical drama' (Drama des reifen Zustandes): as in Ibsen's plays
the characters are fixed (fertige Charaktere), i.e. they are not devel-
oped by the action of the drama, which is merely the unfolding of
a catastrophe prepared by the course of events prior to the first
act. The naturalistic drama is one, not of action, but of situation.
Scenes or 'processes' from the lives of human beings are shown,
not in shapely acts (in some naturalistic plays, e.g. DasFriedensfest,
acts are called Vorgange), but shapelessly fluid and cut oRinprocessu
by the fall of the curtain. There is neither beginning nor end, but
just a 'chunk of life'.

Into the moral decrepitude of the Silesian mining village steps
a 'saviour from afar' (der ^Letter aus der Feme), another ingredient of
the naturalistic drama as of Ibsen's plays. In Hauptmann's next
play, DasFriedensfest (1890), a man who is on the verge of nervous
collapse is to be saved by a healthy woman sweeping in from the
outer world. A physician has married a woman inferior to him
in intelligence, and friction ensues; this is a favourite theme of
Hauptmann's, who (like Wedekind and Thomas Mann) constantly
rehandles the same problem. The doctor had abandoned wife and
children when one of his sons, Wilhelm, had slapped his face.
Wilhelm is engaged to a healthy girl, but, conscious of his heredi-
tary handicaps, he hesitates to marry her (as, to quote an instance
familiar from literary history, Grillparzer for the same reasons had
hesitated to marry his emge Braut). However, there is a family
gathering to celebrate the engagement, and during the rejoicings
father SchoLz unexpectedly returns. Wilhelm begs his father's par-
don for having slapped his face; there is a general reconciliation;
but the father dies of apoplexy. The final result is left in doubt:
will Wilhelm marry Ida, and will the hereditary disease yield to
her care; or is tragedy inevitable?

The third play, Einsame Menschen (1891), handled the triangular