Literatur und Sprache in Krisen- und Umbruchzeiten
Edited By Ernest W.B. Hess-Lüttich, Carlotta von Maltzan and Kathleen Thorpe
Die Revolution als Posse Politik und Komik in Goethes Lustspiel Der Bürgergeneral (1793)
Stefan Hermes (Universität Freiburg im Breisgau)
Die Revolution als Posse
Politik und Komik in Goethes Lustspiel Der Bürgergeneral (1793)
Goethe's comedy Der Bürgergeneral is customarily perceived as one among many proofs of the author's resolute rejection of the French Revolution. But although this point of view is by no means fallacious, it turns out to be problematic that most interpretations of the play predominantly focus on Goethe's supposed political intention instead of giving a detailed investigation of the text itself and its comic strategies. This article tries to resolve this shortcoming and thus proposes a new understanding of the farce which primarily arises from an alternative perspective on the character of the nameless nobleman: While the aristocrat is usually regarded as an ideal representative of enlightened absolutism, it is argued that he behaves almost as inadequately and therefore is nearly as ridiculous as his antagonist, the barber and make-believe Jacobin Schnaps. Accordingly, it may have been Goethe's purpose to create a piece of anti-revolutionary propaganda, but in fact he composed a highly ambiguous comedy which finally makes all its characters possible objects of the reader's or spectator's mockery.
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