Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Adrian Del Caro

Committee Members

Sarah V. Eldridge, Stefanie Ohnesorg


In this thesis, Die ägyptische Helena by Hugo von Hofmannsthal is read as the story of the healing process of the main character Menelas. The main hypothesis states that Hofmannsthal designed the mental disease of Menelas according to the theory of hysteria that Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud described in their Studies on Hysteria (Studien über Hysterie, published in 1895). In the treatment of Menelas’ disease, magic potions play a crucial role. The thesis argues that although those potions are similar to psychotropic drugs, Hofmannsthal refers much more to the potions in Richard Wagner’s operas Tristan und Isolde (1865) and Götterdämmerung (1876) than to drugs that were discussed in the contemporary psychiatric discourse.

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