Emery N. (Emery Nelson) Ferriss.

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Portrayal of Character


Doctor of Philosophy


Emory Nelson Ferriss

MAY 1908



Dayton, Ohio

AttZtttgntbpr'a portrayal of


1. The different types of characters :

(a) tragic through their own actions;

(b) tragic through actions of others;

( c ) tragic through some general force ;

(d) post-tragic characters;

(e) comic characters;

(f) neutral or common characters;

(g) tragic agents.

2. A study of some individual characters, each repre
senting a type.

3. Problems with which the characters deal.

Do they represent the problems of humanity in

4. The dramatic situations: (a) real, (b) exagger-

ated, (c) idealistic.
The naturalness of his characters: (a) are any of
them pathological? (b) do they develop psycho-
logically? (c) are they true to environment?
(d) to what extent are they idealized, exagger-

5. Anzengruber's Field and Motive :

(a) Anzengruber's limitations in subject matter;

(b) his motives in his works as shown by his
characters ;

(c) his independence ;

(d) a naturalistic-realist.

6. Conclusion : His power as a portrayer of man
and his emotions and passions.




Table of Contents

General Outline . . . . III.

Introduction V.

Chapter I. Different Types of Character 11

Chapter II. A Study of Special Characters 18

Chapter III. Problems with which the Characters Deal ... 45

Chapter IV. The Dramatic Situations. Naturalness of

the Characters 50

Chapter V. Anzengruber's Field and Motive; 60

Chapter VI. Conclusion s 67


A great part of each writer's real worth rests in his
ability to represent the truths of reality. The test of the
poet, in the broader sense of the word, his most valid
claim to have his name remembered by posterity, rests in
his power to reflect through his characters the nature of
the human soul. The deep philosophical truths which his
characters utter need not make them worthy of attention.
According to the degree in which they represent the funda-
mental characteristics of the human kind, do they have a
right to exist.

The specific environment in which the author has
placed his characters, and the people with whom they are
brought in contact, and by whom they are influenced, may
be foreign to the one, who, years, yes, generations after-
wards, studies them. Yet, if they represent in their strug-
gles the innate, eternal, strivings of the human soul, with
its failures and successes; if they seem to us like living
men and women with all of the human emotions and
passions, they are worthy of, and fruitful for, study. The
important point is that these characters should be in
harmony with their surroundings, and that their activities
should be those true to such an environment. It has been
those very qualities which have made all peoples interested
in Shakespeare's tempted Brutus; in Victor Hugo's sorely
tried Jean Valjean; and in Goethe's restless Faust, Each
is a character entirely different from the other in his
aspirations, in his trials, and in his general environment ;
but each represents to us a genuine human being with his
constantly changing yet ever constant problems.

The particular fads of social customs may change the
outward appearance of man; the environment of ever
evolving civilization may cause him to conduct himself
in a quite different manner from that of his ancestors.

or that of his descendants. But beneath it all the true
human character has retained its distinctive characteris-
tics. Different problems, in the narrower sense, were to
be solved a century ago, than are to be grappled Avith
to-day, but they called forth the same powers and played
upon the same feelings as those of the present time.
There has always been the constant humanness, upon
which the variable environment has acted. The particular
problems which an author placed before his characters
to be solved may not have been the problems of our own
day and country, but if they are solved or combated with
the same emotions and passions, as we would meet our
specific problems, those characters are true, they continue
to hold interest.

A literary work, as a whole, may be criticized, and
justly, because of its non-compliance with laws affecting
that class of literature. However, in that work, faulty as
an organic whole, there may be an individual character
masterfully developed. Frequently literary productions
as such have been severely criticized, and especially is
this true of dramatic creations, where the particular char-
acters themselves were masterpieces. Critics have declared
the dramas worthless because they did not conform to the
somewhat arbitrary rules of dramatic technique, without
taking into consideration the worth of the characters as
individuals. This criticism may; and doubtless will, stand
against the production, yet if that work continues to live
and to attract attention, there is somewhere therein a char-
acter, interesting because the author has so created him
that his experiences strike in the heart of each reader some
chord in harmony. There must exist in that work some-
thing reflecting the problems of humanity. Goethe's
Tasso was always a failure according to the canons of
true dramatic art, but still the interest of each reader is
held by the character, who, with his poetic nature, was
unable to stand against the world's buffetings. And so
he clings to the firm Antonio, the representative of that
world, with the words:


"Berstend reisst
Der Boden unter meinen Fiiszen auf.
Ich fasse dich mit beiden Armen an."

The aim of this dissertation is not to present a criti-
cism of Ludwig Anzengruber's literary work in all of its
breadth and depth ; nor is it even to give a general criticism
of the separate works as entire creations of literary art.
Incidentally the value of a particular work may be dis-
cussed, but only so far as is necessary to throw light upon
the importance or characteristics of some one character.
The writer will not endeavor to trace out the origin of any
of the individual works of the author except as that may
be advantageous or desirable for a clear understanding
of questions concerning the main problems of the study.
The main theme throughout will be the individual charac-
ter, and an inquiry into the manner and skill with which
Anzengruber has been able to treat his individual creations
as reflectors of the human soul.

From the very nature of the subject, the material
must and will be drawn almost entirely from the author's
own works; and the proof for various opinions and state-
ments will be based upon the words of his writings rather
than upon the ideas of some critic. The works which
have been written about Anzengruber and his literary
activity have been studied, however, and will be referred
to for substantiating certain general interpretations of
particular problems.

A general discussion will be given of the different
types of characters to be found in Anzengruber's works,
not only in his dramas, but also in his two novels: Det
SclwvdfJeck and Der Stern stewhof. Here one problem
will be to discover to what extent Anzengruber has failed
to depict all human characteristics, because of his limited
subject matter. Or has he failed at all? In this classifi-
cation each character will not be mentioned, but usually
only those characters which represent clear examples of
the various types, and which are to be considered in the
discussion of the special classes. Not all characters can


be classified entirely under one head or another, but gen-
erally some predominant features of their development
and experiences will cause them to be placed, and cor-
rectly, under one of the general heads given above.

Following this general treatment of Anzengruber's
characters, a special study will be made of certain indi-
vidual characters, each representing one of the particular
classes. Here the attempt will not be made to review the
entire work, but merely that part which closely hinges
about the character under consideration. Quotations
from the particular work will be quite freely used in order
to place the personage forward in his own environment.
The study of each type character will be closed by a
short general estimate of that character, with reasons for
its place in the general classification.

In the succeeding division of the study the aim will
be to give a critical survey of Anzengruber's literary crea-
tions, the main stress still being upon the individual char-
acter. The writer will here take up the dramatic situa-
tions as they are found in Anzengruber's novels and
dramas: for his two novels are also highly dramatic in
their real essence. First, to what extent has the author
made his situations ideal, or are they purely natural, true
to reality? Then to what extent are his creations simple
and natural; do they represent pathological conditions,
or would one find them in any normal society? Are they
true to environment? And, finally, under this general
head the problem as to their psychological development
throughout the specific work will receive considerable

The next division will be given over to an inquiry
into the peculiar problems of Anzengruber's works. The
intention here being to show to what degree these prob-
lems represent in themselves the questions of that par-
ticular time or locality, and, on the other hand, to what
extent they are the things which still continue to perplex
the human race as a whole. That is, were his questions
of religion, or, rather, of sects; his problems of domestic


and social concern; his ideas of human aspirations, both
of the selfish and of the unselfish sort; peculiar and rele-
vant to the Austrian or Swiss, and only of that particular
time? Or do they remain at the present day, the same,
at least in modified forms, and still hold interest for the
general reader and observer? In other words, are they
broad problems of human society?

Next, a general estimate of Anzengruber in the light
of above results, will be given. In this part of the study
his limitations as to subject matter will be taken up.
Also the purpose will be to give an interpretation of his
motives, in his literary works, as revealed in the treat-
ment of the various characters, and from his own state-
ments, as they have been left to us in words from his
pen. In connection with those questions a discussion as
to his place in German literature, his independence and
general characteristics as an author. In conclusion, his
power as a portrayer of man and his emotions and pas-
sions will be considered. Was he a true dramatist, a man
who understood how to develop a character in such a way
as to show the effect upon that particular temperament,
of experiences, such as forced themselves upon it?


Chapter I.
Different Types of Characters.

Anzengruber in all of his works, if we except the
fragment of the tragedy, Bertha von Frankreich, and the
little play, Elfriede, made the common people, those of
country and town, the bearers of his theme. Only three
of his plays deal with city life, and they represent only
people of the common class. Anzengruber's greatest suc-
cess was in the portrayal of the peasant, his surroundings,
his simple ways of thinking, his blunt jokes, his supersti-
tions, and his unpolished humanness.

In this limited field he has shown to his reader all
types of human character, from the light-hearted, un-
worrying Tomerl in Stahl und Stein to the serious, noble-
hearted Grasbodenbauer in Der Schandfleck; from the
self-sacrificing, somewhat idealistic Pfarrer Hell in Der
Pfarrer von Kirchfeld to the selfish Ferner in Der Mein-
eidbauer, or Helene in Der Sternsteinhof ; from the ridic-
ulous, absent-minded Professor Foliantenwalzer in
'S J 'ungferngift to the happy, yet sympathetic and com-
forting philosopher Steinklopferhanns in Die Kreuzel-
schreiber; from the soured, pessimistic Liese in Der Mein-
eidbauer, or Wurzelsepp in Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld to
the wholesome, forgiving Reindorfer, or Magdalena in the
novel Der & chand fleck ; and, finally from the gross, dis-
gusting villain Gorg Friedner in Hand und Herz to the
fine, upright Paul Weller in the same play, whose life
Gorg brought to ruin.

Thus in characters of this sort, drawn from common
life, we see true to their condition all the various feelings
or passions of the human heart. Each one reveals those
feelings in the manner and in the degree to which we
should expect them in persons of such surroundings and
of such a temperament. Compare the fine soul-texture
of the educated, fellow-loving Hell, with his words of

12 Atizcrgruhe^s Portrayal of Character

comfort to Wurzelsepp: "Beruhige dich, ich werde ja
selbst die Lei eh e zu Girabe geleiten, ich werde die
Gemeinde fur sie beten lassen und alle werden sie Amen
spreehen und Keiner wird ihr die geweihte Scholle
neiden," * with the rough, unfeeling expressions of Gorg
Friedner. In the first place, he speaks to the honest man,
Senner, from whom seven years before he had taken a
sweetheart, married her, squandered her little property,
and then deserted her, and now has returned to look for
her: "Ich daehte durch ein paar Groschen auf die
schaffen konnen, um die war mir's zu thun, und solange
ich damit auslangte, hatte ich ihr Zeit ilnd Ruh' gelassen,
wieder andere zu sparen." 2 - And then to her husband,
as he has long regarded him, whose happiness he delights
in destroying, and with whom he hesitates at no torturing
expressions, not even baseness : "Wenn sie wiederkommt,
dann mogt ihr meinethalben, mich geniert das nicht, vor
der Thiire als Ehrenposten schildren, wahrend ich sie zu
flair nehme." 3 Compare those two short expressions
with that of Hell, then follow through the story of their
lives and ideals, and see how truly each character has

In order to make a study of the individual characters,
it was necessary to classify them under special heads
according as one or another characteristic of the creation
itself predominated, or according to its relation to its
environment. In some, in many cases, in fact, the char-
acter possesses certain attributes common to the specifica-
tions of two or more of the general type heads. In such
cases the most prominent features have been taken as the
criteria for classification. That is, almost without excep-
tion, the predominant characteristics of the character
would seem to offer sufficient reasons for its position
under one of the general heads. In the next discussion
the special characters studied will be selected with the

(1.) Der Pfarrer von Kirchfeld, Act 3, Scene 7, page 81.
(2.) Hand und Herz, Act 1, Scene 5, page 252.
(3.) Hand und Herz, Act 4, Scene 2, page 302.

Auzengruber's Portrayal of Character 13

intention of showing characters plainly in one class or

Tragic Characters.
Under the general topic of tragic characters it has
seemed most convenient to make a fourfold classification,
with reference to the cause, external circumstances, and
the time of the tragic climax. That is, what were the
causes of the tragic events in the character's life as we
see it? Were they forces set in motion by himself, and
over which he afterwards lost control; was the ultimate
cause to be discovered in the particular acts of certain
persons, over which he had no control, yet from which,
according to his position, he could not escape; or, finally,
was his tragic end brought to its culmination by some
general force, perhaps in its latter stages carried to com-
pletion through the agency of certain persons, parts of
his environment, but a force started without any special
reference to his particular destruction? Then, to make
the study complete, especially from the viewpoint of his
psychological development of character, is made the
division, post-tragic characters. Conforming to this type
are those, who, in the play itself, would come under the
head of neutral or philosophic personages; but who, as
we learn during the development of the plot, have previous
to the present scenes themselves passed through tragic
periods. In the characters of this class, Anzengruber
has shown more clearly than in any other way, perhaps,
his true understanding of human character, and the effect
of certain tests upon that character. Steinklopferhanns
represents such a character with a, tendency to be affected
in one direction, while Wurzelsepp is another, with the
stronger tendency exerting an overbalancing power in the
other direction. Tn the case of Steinklopferhanns, an opti-
mistic nature, accustomed to studying things and people,
but from the bright side, becomes, through harsh experi-
ences, more sympathetic towards those about him, if some-
what more stoical in his way of regarding the course of
his own life. On the other hand, Wurzelsepp, no doubt a

14 Anzengruber's Portrayal of Character

man always inclined to see night's shadows rather than
the tints of the morning's sun, through a tragic occurrence
in his own life, is made a pessimist : a man soured against
the world, and especially against one of its greatest forces,
the church. He loses his sympathy and interest in his
fellow men, except as to the thought of revenge upon the
representative of that church, until he is turned back into
the brighter path by the priest, Hell, who returns him good
for evil. Thus even he had still the spark of good in him,
Avhich, when given the occasion, began to glow again.
Anzengruber never depicted a character thoroughly bad.
As Servaes puts it: "Anzengruber's unvergleichliehste
Gabe war, iiberall das, was hier, das Gold-kornchen,
genannt wtirde, zu finden. Wo andere nur diirren Boden
zu sehen vermochten, da entdeckte er ein jungfriiuliclies
Ackerfeld. Aus scheinbar verharteten Naturen den
menschlichen Klang herauszuhorchen, war ihm im hoch-
sten Masse gegeben." !

Comic Characters.

Under the classification, comic characters, it seems
possible to place Anzengruber's personages under two
heads: those characters of a general comic type, as
Schrauder in Heimg'funden, or Kohlenbrenner-Tomerl in
'& Jungferngift; or of the truly ridiculous type as Pro-
fessor Foliantenwalzer, also to be found in '& Jungfern-
gift. There might be sufficient grounds for placing such
characters as Dusterer of Ghmssensivurm under a special
sub-head ; that is, those who are comical to the reader or
observer from their selfish, though evident, plotting.
However, they are better treated in a class that is to fol-
low : the tragic agents. In the first sub-division are to be
found those personages who are optimists, who look upon
the bright side of life, who love a wholesome joke, some-
times even regardless of consequences. Those people who
are valuable because of the cheer and brightness which

(1.) Praeludien: Ein Essaybueh, page 52.

Anzcngr liber's Portrayal of Character 15

they bring naturally into the lives of their more nervous,
serious-minded fellow men. No one can read the comedy,
'S Jiingferngift, and see the activity of Kohlenbrenner-
Tomerl along with his diplomacy in the uneven wooing
match, for Kegerl, between the rich Simmion-Siminerl
and his rather poor opponent, Kasper, without enjoying
the keen humor of the different situations. On the other
hand, in Professor Foliantenwalzer, the ridiculous actions
of the half-blind, old philologist, so interested in quaint,
old volumes that he has practically lost sight of the
moving world about him, picture to the reader a character
truly comical only through his exaggerated eccentricities.
Another example of this second sub-head, but of a very
much milder type, is the nervous, shrinking, little man,
Fahnlein, in Heimg'funden. He is entirely undiplomatic
in all that he undertakes to do with those about him.
Though his cause is serious, and the reader or observer
cannot help but sympathize with him, yet at the same
time he must smile, yea, laugh at the nervous awkward-
ness of the character. In the same scenes with Fahnlein,
Anzengruber has placed before us a comic character, but
altogether unlike the former, the large, good-natured
Schrauder, one of those characters who never get "blue,"
but can see the optimistic side of almost any calamity.
Fahnlein is scared at Doctor Hammer's financial con-
dition, and especially because in the Doctor's care is all
of his rainy-day surplus. He tells Schrauder about it, as
he has all of his troubles for years. Finally, Schrauder,
who has just told Fahnlein that he always sees black, to
quiet the little man, offers to wager that everything is
still safe. Fahnlein answers: "Eh, Unsinnwetten : Wenn
ich gewinne, so haben wir alle miteinander nichts. Mit
was zahlen sie denn dann?" Schrauder replies: "Eben,
ich wette ja nur auf Gewinn, zu verlieren liabe ich nichts,
als hochstens bisschen Fett und um das thate es mir leid,,
es kleidet mich so Iriibsch." 1

(1.) Heimg'funden, Act 1, Scene 1.

16 Anzengr liber's Portrayal of Character

Neutral or Common Characters.

A very large number of Anzengruber's characters can
be classified in the next division, neutral or common char-
acters. By that terminology is meant those personages
who are neither tragic nor humorous, at least to any
marked degree. They correspond to the general type of
people about us. Usually we find in their lives nothing
deserving the designation tragic; or, if it is enough to be
tragic to a more highly strung nature, the heroes of
tragedy, these characters pass through the ordeal without
any destroying effect. Ofttimes their nature is mellowed
by the trials, yet the experience has caused no real rupture
in their nervous organism.

Such characters are skillfully used by Anzengruber,
true to his dramatic material. These neutral characters
are the leavening force in the communities portrayed in
his stories and plays. Often they take very prominent
parts, and likewise very interesting, in the action of the
story. Notice, for example, the part of Reindorfer in
Drr Schandfieek, or Horlaeherlies in G'wissenswurm
Each of the characters of this type moves along, a neces-
sary figure, influencing and being influenced by the main
personages of the story. Several of such characters show
good evidences of the poet's power to depict psychological
development. Examples are Martin Kernhofer in Alte
Wiener; the Sternsteinhofbauer in Der Stermteinhof ;
Reindorfer in Der Schandfleck; Thomas Hammer in
Heimg'funden. or Vroni in Der Meineidbauer.

The Tragic Agent.

The last and very important type of character is the
tragic agent; that is, that character who, by his or her
acts, causes the tragic climax. As one might expect, this
type of character is the least pleasant to study, yet not
the least interesting. Such a character is fascinating
because of the psychology of his development. This devel-
opment is sometimes given to the reader or observer
directly by the role which the character has in the novel

AnzviLijr liber's Portrayal of Character 17

or play itself. Usually, however, the history of his life
is skillfully brought forward by the author, either through
the words of the character himself, or through those of
the other characters. He is the person who consciously,
in a premeditated way, performs an act tending to result
in the tragic destruction of a fellow-being.

Individual examples of such characters are Gorg
Friedner in Hand und Herz, Toni and Helene in Der
Sternsteinhof > Leonhardt in Der Ledige Hof, Eisner in
Stahl und Stein, the elder Florian Weninger in Der
Schandfleck, and Johanna in Die Trutzige.

In the next division of the study a short review will
be given of individual characters, each representing one
of these general classes. In each case the purpose being
to show the basis for such a classification, as a means of
analyzing Anzengruber's characters, also to show his
method and ability to develop dramatic characters.

Chapter II.
A Study of Special Characters.

Characters tragic through their own actions. In no
other place does Anzengruber show such a true insight
into human life and its springs of action as in the
Meirieidbauer on the one hand, and Katharine in Hand

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