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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

HUGO   VON   HOFMANNSTHAL                       221

Electra means 'the unmated', and she does bemoan her fate as an
unmated woman. To provide a foil for the abnormality and sexual
hysteria of Electra Hofmannsthal brings out the sane character of
Chrysothemis, sexually ripe and therefore stung with desire but
normally so: she urges Electra to accept things as they are so that
she may mount the bridal bed. This contrasting ripeness of body
in her sister Electra caresses :

. . . Du bist voller Kraft . . .
Icb spure durch die Kuhle deiner Haut
das war me Blut hindurch^ mit meiner Wange
spur* ich den Flaum auf deinenjmgen Armen :
Du bist me eine Frucht am Tag der Reife . . .

But Electra is withered and stunted by the frenzy of her hate. She
is physically incomplete : . . . *hab9 langes Haar undfuhk \ doch nichts
von dem, 'was Weiber^ heisst es, fuhlen'. The conflict between her
thwarted sex instincts and the domination of her mind by the lust
of vengeance on those who have murdered her father has de-
flowered her: *obne Brautnacht \ bin ich nicht ^ me die Jungfraun sind\
She has lost her virgin state because she has had hate for a bride-
groom; to Orestes, when at last he comes to do the deed she
herself was about to attempt, she says :

Verstehst drfs, Cruder! diese sussen Schauder
hab' ich dem Vater opfern mussen. Meinst du,
wenn ich an meinem Letb micbfreute, drangen
nicht seine Seufaer, drang sein Stohnen nicht
bis an mein Bette? Eifersuchtig sind
die Toten : und er schickte mir den Hass,
den hohldugigen Hass als Brautigam.
Da musste ich den Grasslicben, der atmet
me eine Viper,, uber mich in mein
schlaf loses TSette lassen, der mich %wang>
alles ^// mssen, me es ^wiscben Mann
und Weib

In a sense, then, she has been deflowered by the ghost of her
father as a vampire (an idea which occurs again in Hauptmann's
conception of the ghost of Hamlets father as a vampire). And
Electra herself has turned into a vampire lusting for the blood of