The Life and Works of Friedrich Schiller

By Calvin Thomas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
William Cell

Der alte Urstand der Natur kehrt wieder, Wo Mensch dem Menschen gegenübersteht; Zum letzten Mittel, wenn kein andres mehr Verfangen will, ist ihm das Schwert gegeben.

' William Tell'.

SCHILLER'S last play, like his first, was inspired by the Goddess of Freedom, but what a difference between the wild-eyed bacchante of the earlier day and the decorous muse of ' William Tell'! There the frenzied revolt of a young idealist against chimerical wrongs of the social order; here a handful of farmers, rising sanely in the might of union and appealing to the old order against intolerable oppression. There the tragedy of an individual madman; here the triumph of a laudable patriotism.

' Tell' is a fresh illustration of its author's versatility, for nothing more different from its immediate predecessors could easily be imagined. It is also the most thoroughly human among his plays, and the only one that does not end upon a tragic note. Finally it is the most popular, though the most loosely articulated,--a fact that shows how little the permanent interest and classical prestige of a dramatic production

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