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life of the hero of the piece. This it is that Goethe makes the key-stone of his construction of the whole poem; it expands itself in all its shades and states-at one time by collision with opponents or adverse circumstances, at another in confidential communion, either of counsel or of action, with friends, dependents, or kindred, and sometimes also through accidental meeting with strangers. Consequently it is in the ever-changing variety, in the artistic and psychological arrangement of the scenes for this purpose, and in the dexterity with which at the same time he thereby throws out, more or less clearly, the individual peculiarities of all the other co-operating personages, whom he groups around his heroes in suitable contrasts-in these particulars consists Goethe's art of composition, which in this manner in a spiral movement, with few if any irregular starts, revolves around the delineation of the leading character, which itself is carried forward without let or hindrance. Unlike Shakspeare, Goethe does not generally begin with the grouping of his dramatic figures around some grave and important act, event, or enterprise; nor, like Calderon, with laying down some difficult and entangled situation, but with a scene in which inferior personages, either by some narrative, or by giving utterance to their own opinions and expectations, introduce us to the character of the hero. This is the case in "Egmont," "Goetz," "Stella," "Tasso," "The Natural Daughter," "The Triumph of Sensibility," "The GrossCophta," "The Citizen-General," "The Rebels," "Lila,” &c. In this exposition or introductory scene the character of the hero is laid open before the reader or spectator; it contains and furnishes an account of all essential matters in his previous history up to the point when the piece begins, as well as allusions to the existing posture of affairs. Hereupon the hero himself is introduced and placed in a situation more or less calculated to exhibit, in a very general manner, his mode of thinking and acting, which afterwards, when the more important of the secondary figures have been gradually brought forward, and either among themselves or in presence of the hero himself, have taken their part with or against him, is drawn out more in detail, and relatively to the principal circumstances, until at last, with their co-operation, the destiny of the leading personage breaks forth as the inevitable

result of his individual character, such as it has been fully developed and laid open before us.

In the character of the hero, accordingly, we are to find for the most part the ground-idea of the whole drama. Whereas in Shakspeare the fundamental idea exhibits itself, with the greatest variety and under different modifications, in the most diversified and organically connected groups, so that even on this account all the subordinate personages possess an independent position of their own, and are allowed to unfold their characters after their own fashion, and irrespectively of the hero of the piece; with Goethe, on the contrary, it is only mediately, and by reason of the relation in which they stand to the principal personages, that the secondary ones have any part in the ground-idea, which, if it is at all mirrored in them, is only as a reflexion from the hero's character. And on this account Goethe is liable to the same objections as the celebre poeta of Spain, although from different causes. Occasionally some of his subordinate characters, however externally they may be interwoven with the plot, nevertheless intrinsically have no part in the ground-idea of the whole, and stand apart from its ideal action and necessity. This is the case with Richard and Machiavelli in "Egmont," Marie in "Goetz," Sophie-Guilbert and her husband in "Clavigo," and Lucie in "Stella." The nearest approach to Shakspeare's mode of composition is in the "Goetz von Berlichingen," which Goethe avowedly wrote after the Shakspearean model. Here the ground-idea of the whole is carried out in great variety, not only in the biography of Goetz himself, but also in Selbitz, Sickingen, and by means of contrast also in the life and fortunes of Weislingen; nay, even in Lerse and George a refracted ray of it is manifest. The only difference is, that Shakspeare regards with equal love all the different groups in which the ground-idea is mirrored, and labours to bring it out with the same clearness in all, while Goethe, on the contrary, removes all his secondary figures, as compared with his hero, so far into the background, that their life and fortunes may perhaps be narrated, but are never, properly speaking, dramatically exhibited. "Egmont," again, which at the first glance appears to possess the same relationship to Shakspeare, bears, in fact, the genuine and

perfect Goethean stamp. The fundamental idea, the view which the hero entertains of life, and which leads him to reject this earthly existence altogether, so soon as it allows not free scope for the unchecked development of his personal feelings, and furnishes no more of what is alone good and agreeable to himself, and which he calls his bliss, is reflected first of all in Clärchen, in consequence of the relation in which she stands to Egmont. When the object of her affections is no more, she too refuses to live. It is then again manifested, though more weakly, in Brackenburg, irritated by his hopeless passion and the disappointment of his plans of happiness. Nay more: again proceeding from Egmont, it takes possession of the youthful Ferdinand, and through him affects even the very different character of the iron-hearted Alba, who is doomed to witness the ruin of the principal object of all his labours-the transmission to his son of his power and influence; while on the other hand, William of Orange, and Margaret, with their very opposite views of life, their retiring prudence and their calculating adaptation to circumstances, in like manner miss of perfect satisfaction. In "Tasso," again-to adduce a second instance--the whole interest centres in the influence which the young and highlygifted poet's view of life, his ideal freedom and the supremacy of the beautiful, exercise on all who are brought within his sphere. it, Alfonso, and especially Eleonora of Este, are involuntarily affected; even Sanvitale is not quite untouched, while Antonio, with his directly opposite mode of thinking, struggles against it with unmitigating rigour. The conflict which thence results and threatens to overthrow all the fundamental relations of the existing state of things, forms the catastrophe, in which the particular view of life on which the whole is founded reveals fully its own exclusiveness and falsehood, and tragically refutes itself.


The composition, or structure, of Goethe's pieces possesses this great advantage, that it releases the author from all care about the general interest of the exhibited action. We have already more than once suggested the remark, that if the dramatic work of art is to affect every spectator in his own way-on which, indeed, the whole tragic effect depends-some general trait of human nature must be conveyed, not merely in the fundamental idea itself, nor


solely in the characters which are designed to be the immediate representatives of it, but also in the sufferings, doings, and the fortunes of the dramatic personages which result therefrom: in short, in the action itself. Shakspeare, with whom the predominant impression lies exclusively neither in the characters (subjectivity), nor in the fact (objectivity), but in both rather, organically combined together as equally important elements, could attain this end in no other way than that which he has adopted, of carrying out the ground-idea through divers forms of action in different groups of characters. Calderon, with whom, as we have seen, the fact or deed is of the first importance, makes use of his diction to secure this object. Goethe, on the other hand, with whom the chief stress lies on the individual characters of the acting personages, stood in need neither of this means nor of Shakspeare's diversity of exhibition. With him the fact possesses no independent value of its own; deeds and destiny, the whole action in short, is but a modified moment of the personality of the hero, which is only formally dependent upon, and not in any essential respect qualified by, the objective position of affairs, and which, therefore, as such, is also absolutely merged in his personal character. With Goethe, accordingly, the fact, like any other mere form, is more or less a matter of indifference; the personality, wherever it is like or similar, must, according to his view of life, lead to an essentially similar destiny; whatever outward phase it may assume is a matter unimportant for all besides himself. Consequently the only condition to be observed is, that the ground-idea and the characters of the piece should bear the impress of catholic humanity. This, however, required to be deeply stamped, even because, like the idea itself, it is only in a small number of characters, for the most part in the hero and his immediate circle alone, that it admitted of being brought to view. And, as a consequence of all this, neither the characters nor their fortunes can be extraordinary; they cannot go beyond the common and general course of things. Such violent party spirit and passionateness as are painted in "Romeo and Juliet," such rare cunning and worthlessness as actuate Lago in "Othello," such unnatural harshness and cruelty as shewn by the daughters in "Lear," &c., and such

singular and complicated situations and circumstances as are met with in Calderon's dramas, are not to be found, and indeed not to be looked for, in Goethe's pieces. For they would necessarily require a more immediate objective foundation of their possibility and generality than Goethe could consistently give to them. A slight exception is furnished by the pieces of the second period; in the character of Faust, for instance, and in a slighter degree also in those of Iphigenia and Eugenie. In Faust the whole strength of the subjectivity of the human mind is as it were concentred; it is this ideal catholicity and completeness that make up for whatever is extraordinary in his character. But this circumstance alone necessarily detaches the whole poem from the properly dramatic soil of historical reality, and transfers it into the domain of symbolism and allegory: it is only in so far not improperly dramatic, as it does not exhibit the past, the present, and the future of mind, in its organic development and unity, but, like the eternal idea of humanity, as it has no existence in time. For Faust ceases to be an individual; he is rather a symbolical figure; he is, as already said, the representative of all mankind, and his history is allegorically the history of humanity. Accordingly it is purely allegorical figures that are brought into contact with him. Even Gretchen (Margaret) becomes (in the second part at least) the representative of "eternal womanhood"—everlasting and undying love.

Thus, then, Goethe like Calderon, though indeed from very different reasons, arrives at the symbolical and allegorical. The chief impelling cause of this lay, as previously remarked, in the peculiar tendency of the second period of his dramatic career, in which his general view of life passed from its immediateness into philosophical reflection, by attempting to establish and justify its own position. An obvious means of effecting this presented itself in the expansion of the exhibited characters into a more universal significance than belonged to their concrete form and shape: in other words, in making them to convey more than was contained in their personal characters, in and by themselves, which expedient of itself, however, simply gave to them an allegorical aspect. Thus, even Tasso, although a character by no means out of the way, and

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