WOYZECK Summary and Critique

Essay by awkwarderikUniversity, Master'sA-, December 2004

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WOYZECK, was composed by Georg Buchner; a German, leading three separate lives as a medical researcher, teacher, and dramatist. The exact date of composition is unknown because it is considered an incomplete work. Small fragments of the script were found at different date, and in no particular order. The most accessible of these compilations is by Henry J. Schmidt, who is also credited with the most accurate English translation.

The script's plot if very cryptic but is based on a true story that took place during 1821 in Leipzig, Germany. The character of Woyzeck is modeled after Johann Christian Woyzeck who was executed on charges of brutally murdering his ex-mistress. The execution did not take place until years after the crime was committed due to several failed appeals. The evidence in the case was extremely mishandled, and the fact that Woyzeck was a paranoid schizophrenic was ignored by the state physician.

Buchner's focus for this text is on the naturally schizophrenic tendencies of man.

Franz Woyzeck, a military barber, has serious anxiety issues in finding connections with others, especially those who are financially above him such as the Captain, Doctor, and Drum Major. He speaks in highly fragmented sentences in contrast to the lengthy, "detailed" speeches of those previously stated. His "common wife" Marie completely avoids hearing Woyzeck's desperate attempts for connection and later turns her sexual attention to the overly masculine Drum Major. Every figure in Woyzeck's life is to be mistrusted, especially the Doctor who has kept him on a strict diet of peas in order to gain medical research. Woyzeck encounters this set of characters in a number of very short scenes in which the order is not completely understood, however this emphasizes his schizophrenic state, to a climax of Woyzeck responding to the voices...