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Woyzeck Summary - Summary of Georg Büchner's play "Woyzeck"

Updated on August 18, 2013

Woyzeck by Georg Büchner

Summary of Woyzeck by Georg Büchner

Woyzeck is a middle-aged man, who has a lover called Marie and a child with her. He has a hard life, because he doesn’t earn much money. Besides being a soldier, he also has to take part in an inhuman experiment and work as a barber for his boss.

Woyzeck has to work so much that he has nearly no real time for Marie. Marie feels unsatisified in her natural and sensual needs and during an event, she meets the Tambourmajor. She starts an affair with him. Woyzeck takes part in an experiment from a doctor. He only is allowed to eat beans and to piss when the doctor says he can. In addition to this dehumanisation of Woyzeck, he is also made down by his boss – he says Woyzeck has no actual intelligence and is quite stupid. Woyzeck can’t say something against this uttering, because his boss is from a higher class and thus socially-seen he has a higher position and control over Woyzeck and his fate.

All this has been going on for a very long time and this of course is a great psychological burden and stress over a long period of time. At the beginning of the play, Woyzeck also has slight hallucinations. The friend, who is with him at the beginning, becomes fairly worried, but he says, Woyzeck should drink alcohol.

When Woyzeck finds out that his beloved one, Marie, has cheated on him with the Tambourmajor, Woyzeck sees no other way than killing Marie.

Marie is with some children and her grandmother. The children want to hear a fairytale and Marie asks the grandmother to tell a tale. The grandmother tells the so-called “anti-fairytale”, which, as the name suggests, is the opposite of a nice fairytale.

It’s about a girl, who has no one on earth and then everyone dies. She goes to the sun and sees it’s only a dead sunflower and the stars are only stinky flies and the moon is a rotten piece of wood. She returns to earth, but only to find out, that it is a destroyed pot. She then keeps crying for all eternity.

The anti-fairytale is a crucial part for the interpretation of the play and foreshadows Woyzeck’s isolation. After the grandmother has finished her tale, Woyzeck appears to get Marie. Right before, he went to a Jew to buy a deadly knife.

It’s already late and the couple goes to a pond, where Woyzeck talks insanely. He stabs Marie to death, saying, he knew about the affair with the Tambourmajor. Some other people notice the dead Marie.

At the end, even his own son is afraid of Woyzeck, which contributes even more to Woyzeck’s isolation. He ends in front of the court. His sentence remains unknown.

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Stefan Zweig – Fear

Hermann Hesse – the Steppenwolf

Hermann Hesse – Siddharta

Hermann Hesse – Demian

Hermann Hesse – Narcissus and Goldmund

Hermann Hesse – Glass Bead Game

Jean-Paul Sartre – Huis Clos

Molière – The Imaginary Invalid

William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Bernand Shaw – Pygmalion

Vsevolod Garshin – A red flower

Viktor Pelevin – The life of insects

Tolstoy – The Death of Ivan Ilyich

More Summaries

Novalis – Heinrich von Ofterdingen

Goethe – Faust I

Goethe – Clavigo

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Goethe – Egmont

Goethe – Stella

E.T.A Hoffmann – The Sandman

Joseph von Eichendorff – Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts

Joseph von Eichendorff – The Marble Statue

Georg Büchner – Woyzeck

Robert Louis Stevenson – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide

© 2013 Slaven Cvijetic

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