Author Archives: beriz

Woyzeck II: Naturalism in Woyzeck

For this week, when we try to stage a scene from Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck it is helpful to make a connection between the elements of the scene and Naturalism. I find the most useful material in section 4.8 on page 144. Here in the scene Doctor and Woyzeck are talking about the experiment that Woyzeck is a part of. Woyzeck is treated almost like a lab rat in this interaction. When we look at some of the characteristics of Naturalism, we can remember that the writers who wrote in this fashion had a Darwinist approach to their characters. Natural selection and survival of the fittest are themes that could be handled in Naturalism. Throughout the play, especially in this scene we can observe how Woyzeck is struggling, and the Doctor criticizing him for following “the call of the nature”. The conflict between the ‘nature of men’ and the ‘free will’ can be a reference to ideas of Naturalism, which point out the fact that humans are controlled by their instincts and hereditary characteristics.


Doctor compares Woyzeck to a dog for peeing on the wall. Similarly both the Doctor and Captain keep reminding Woyzeck of his lower standing in the society, especially by making comparisons to animals. In Captain’s case he repeats many times the phrase “You’re a good man”, however he also talks about Woyzeck’s actions by saying “A good man doesn’t act like that, a good man with a good conscience” (p.142). Woyzeck is surrounded by people who repeatedly belittle his place in the society and question his values, pushing him beyond his limits to commit a crime. In Naturalism it is also suggested that the characters don’t have free will, and in Woyzeck’s case I can make a clear connection with that statement. Woyzeck’s lack of control over his own life, and how characters like the Doctor and Captain shape Woyzeck’s days shows the clash of classes in Büchner’s time. Long before the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Buchner starts writing Woyzeck(1836) which also tackles the underlying class differences within the German society.

The reason why Woyzeck is one of the most popular plays in German theater could be that it reflects the struggles of its time very well. Incorporating the sense of boosting industry and science through the experiments, and recognizing mental disorder, and the corruption created by urbanization, the play paints a broad social picture.

Would Woyzeck still kill his mistress if the Doctor and Captain were not a part of Woyzeck’s life?

Is the character Doctor a critique of the science at the time? Considering that Büchner himself was a scientist how can we interpret the role of science/medicine in the play?

What would Büchner think of Communist Manifesto? Would he find it realistic?

Being a working woman/mother/wife


In light of our discussion on Tuesday, I thought this clip from Parks and Recreation is a good reply to the prejudice that working women face in their careers. With the use of humor this video shows how women are targeted for pursuing career goals, and that men and women are expected by the society to take different roles in their families.

Topic #3 Self-deception and responsibilities

Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen introduces ideas in his play, A Doll’s House, that are so controversial for his time; he has become a trailblazer in Realism. In the course of the play, Nora Helmer-a wife and a mother- faces many challenges that prompts her to be reborn as a new independent person. Published in 1879, the play has a context when women in Europe were not accepted as people who can vote and have rights regarding their life and marriage. In most European countries women were not given their right to vote until the 20th century. Keeping that in mind, Ibsen started tackling this idea ‘where a woman belongs” and “individuality and independence of women” 34 years before Norwegian women could vote.

Ibsen portrays a dynamic between Nora and Torvald where Nora gets treated and scolded like a child by her husband. He has degrading pet names for Nora such as; “skylark”, “squirrel”, “spendthrift”, “noodlehead” and many other. To the reader until the Act III, Nora seems like she’s not offended by any of the remarks her husband makes. She lives in an illusion where she believes that her husband would risk everything; his life, his reputation for her sake. Torvald, on the other hand, does not perceive Nora as a person with her own ideas and aspirations for life. He makes his idea of Nora clear when he says “my little lark is talking like a real person” (Act III, 208), Nora, Nora, you are such a woman!”(Act I, 34), “The child will have its way!”(Act III, 648), and “my most precious possession”(Act III, 216). Torvald does not see Nora as a person, he rather accepts her as a “possession” that plays the role of a wife and mother. Ibsen harshly criticizes the objectification of women through his realistic portrayal of rich characters that mirror the spirit of his time.

When Torvald states “You are a wife and mother, first and foremost”(Act III, 562), Nora’s reply voices Ibsen’s vision for the women. Nora says, “I don’t believe that anymore. I believe that first and foremost, I’m a human being-just as much as you-or at least I should try to become one”(Act III, 563). This possibility of equality between men and women is a groundbreaking revelation to make in Ibsen’s time. His play lived through years, and unfortunately is still relevant to our time where men and women are not equal in many social spheres of life.

My question for further discussion would be:

Where is the line between a person’s responsibilities for her or himself, and the responsibilities towards other people in her or his life?

Do people lie and deceive themselves more than they deceive other people? Nora deceived herself through out her 8 years of marriage, while all along she knew how it wasn’t what she wanted for herself. Why do people put up with situations they don’t like?