Grillparzer's Libussa: The Tragedy of Separation

By William C. Reeve | Go to book overview

The Inescapable
Paternal Legacy:
Act One

All of Grillparzer's completed posthumous plays commence with a negation: "PRIMISLAUS an der Tür der Hütte horchend: Bist du schon fertig? LIBUSSA von innen: Nein"; "GERICHTSPERSON Im Namen kaiserlicher Majestät / Ruf' ich euch zu: Laßt ab! DON CÄSAR Ich nicht, fürwahr!" ( Ein Bruderzwist1-2); "ISAK Bleib zurück, geh nicht in' Garten!" ( Die Jüdini). In all three instances the denial, pointing to a personal conflict, whether between a man and a woman, father and son, or father and daughter, reflects on the individual level a social development threatening the stability of a well established political structure or ideology.Negation implies an attempt to distance the self from a perceived potential threat. Libussa's first utterance of the tragedy is a simple, succinct "Nein": she stands up to Primislaus, and being in control from the outset, refuses to be rushed.Moreover, the one asking the question normally occupies the inferior position, i.e., expresses a dependence upon the person being asked.In contrast, the staging establishes a visual internal/external dichotomy: the woman within the cottage to which traditional gender patterns would relegate her and to which she will return at the beginning of the fifth act and the man on the outside, a dramatic realization of the female inner versus the masculine outer orientation. 1 Primislaus's listening at the door may also convey esteem or deference.Therefore, the spectator immediately gains an inkling of a problematic relationship: although the physical staging reinforces typical sexual stereotypes, the attitudes expressed by word and gesture suggest their inversion.

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Grillparzer's Libussa: The Tragedy of Separation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Grillparzer's Libussa - The Tragedy of Separation *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • The Inescapable Paternal Legacy: Act One *
  • Cooperation/Integration Versus Competition / Separation: Act Two *
  • Likes Repel: Act Three *
  • Jockeying for Position and Apparent Reconciliation: Act Four *
  • The Final Separation(s): Act Five *
  • Conclusion: Variations on a Theme *
  • Notes *
  • Works Cited *
  • Index *
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