Woyzeck By George Buchner A commentator has remarked, Clearly Buchner considered that while social revolution might help the Woyzecks of the world, it could hardly save them. Is Buchners vision of the world of Woyzeck essentially fatalistic, a dystopia from which there is no escape? George Buchners classic play Woyzeck, unfinished, yet ahead of its time, has only this past century achieved notoriety for its visionary script and modernity. Buchner, a young radical of his time, intended this work to act as a social protest against the oppression and conditions of the impoverished. The work shows its audience the extreme tragedies that befall those trapped in poverty, those who have lost all hope, and therefore become acquiescent to their environment, which in turn furthers their hardship. Despite the main characters pleas for aid, and or spiritual intervention, they are trapped in their situations.
Buchner offers no hope to them of any kind for redemption or salvation. Poverty is presented as a vicious cycle, one that destroys everything in its path. The obvious apocalyptic language and visions that Buchner employs in the play all stress the pessimism surrounding the characters, and the fatalistic and dystopic environment in which they are forced to survive. Woyzeck, the central protagonist, and his common law wife Marie, are left to the mercy of their society and manipulated by those around them. Characters like the Doctor, Captain, and Drum Major contribute to Woyzecks downfall, and the subsequent murder of Marie: the Doctor treats Woyzeck like an animal and is completely unconnected to his reality, the Captain tries in vain to morally reform Woyzeck, a man whose hunger is first and foremost on his mind and not the condition of his morality, and finally, the Drum Major humiliates Woyzeck by seducing his wife, and later assaults him in front of his peers. All three men cannot possibly understand Woyzecks state of mind and situation, and disregard him in all his pain and suffering. They mock his humanity, and ignore him when he asks for answers to the questions that might have eased his troubled and irrational mind.
The Captain plants the jealous seed of doubt and anger surrounding Maries infidelity in Woyzecks mind. The effect of this would not have been so successful if Woyzeck had not been already so desperate, destitute, and verging on madness. Woyzeck explains his dire existence to the Captain in scene one of the play: Woyzeck: When youre poor like us, sirIts the money, the money! If you havent got the money I mean you cant bring the likes of us into the world on decency. Were flesh and blood too. Our kind doesnt get a chance in this world or the next.
If we go to heaven theyll put us to work on the thunder (Pp.108) Here one sees that Woyzeck believes that even if he made it to the eternal paradise of heaven, his suffering would still continue, as he would be made to work on the thunder along with the rest of the poor. Woyzeck perceives no glimpse of a better life or future for his family, and accepts his fate to live as a slave to others. He allows the Doctor to perform weird and degrading experiments on him, such as placing him on a strict diet of only peas for three months, and he allows himself to be berated for relieving himself in the street. Woyzeck does all this just so he can earn a few measly dollars to support Marie and their child. There is no utopic blueprint in this play.
Buchner does not create a new model for humanity, or for how poverty should be dealt with, he just shows it to us in all of its anguish. Woyzecks only escape from his pathetic life is his love for Marie. She is the only thing that he loves, and cherishes. Her affair with the Drum Major drives Woyzeck into insanity, and he ends up killing Marie, the only thing that kept him sane. Woyzeck says concerning self-control, that the poor cant possibly do anything but obey natures call, much like the horse displayed at the fair: Man in his unidealized state. Woyzeck: Oh, self-control.
Im not very strong on that, sir. You see, the likes of us just dont have any self-control. I mean, we obey natures call. But if I were a gentleman and had a hat and a watch and a topcoat and could talk proper, then Id have self-control all right. Must be a fine thing, self-control.
But Im a poor man. (Pp.108) Marie is the victim of a lust she cannot control. She loves her husband but she is plagued by her passions for the Drum Major and the perks that come with it, like gold earrings and a red necklace. When the Drum Major approaches Marie, at first she resists, but then she just gives into her appetites because in her mind nothing can make life worse than it is at present. Drum Major: And youre what I call a woman. Christ, well set up a stud for drum majors.
Marie: Let me go Drum Major: Wildcat Marie [violently]: Dont touch me! Drum Major: The very devils in your eyes. Marie: Oh, what does it matter? Its all one. Marie knows she will be punished for her sins. She cries out to God for help, to absolve her of her indiscretions like Jesus did with the biblical adulteress. The only problem is she cannot truly repent of her affair as she enjoyed it too much.
Marie: [turning pages of bible] Nor was guile found in his mouth. Dear God, dont look at me. And the scribes and the Pharisees brought him a woman taken in adultery and set her in the midstAnd Jesus said unto her: Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more. Dear God, I cant. Almighty God, at least give me the strength to prayAnd stood at his feet weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. Everything is dead. O Christ my savior, if only I could anoint thy feet.
(Pp.126-127) Maries prayer does her no good, a …