Gender-Sexual Abjection, Subjectivity, and the Uncanny in Literature and Film
Chapter 2: Young Corporeality and Unstable Morality in Frank Wedekind’s: Frühlings Erwachen
Chapter 2: Young Corporeality and Unstable Morality in Frank Wedekind’s Frühlings Erwachen
Das, was wir die Welt nennen, ist das Resultat einer Menge von Irrthümern und Phantasien, welche in der gesammten Entwickelung der organischen Wesen allmählich entstanden, in einander verwachsen und uns jetzt als aufgesammelter Schatz der ganzen Vergangenheit vererbt werden, - als Schatz: denn der Werth unseres Menschenthums ruht darauf. (Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches I und II 37)1
In this chapter I will expand my thoughts on the abject to focus on the effects of the abjection of youth and young bodies.2 In Frank Wedekind’s (1864–1918) drama, Frühlings Erwachen (1891), I propose that we witness this process of abjection as well as some of the effects of it, including the violent response of suicide. Since its first performance, the play has been controversial for its candid depiction of adolescent sexuality. One of the reasons it has often been criticized is Wedekind’s thematization of adults’ and parents’ poor stewardship of children’s introduction to the facts of life. I argue in this chapter that the children in Wedekind’s play are constructed as abject reflections of the adults. Through processes of cultural, moral, and historical inscription, the children’s bodies become an abject foil to the discursive and censorious desires of their authority figures, while simultaneously reflecting the other. With levels of success that vary by character, the forces of abjection modify, eject, or destroy the entities with which they interact, all as a...
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