Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

German

Major Professor

Stefanie Ohnesorg

Committee Members

Carolyn R. Hodges, Chauncey (Jeff) Mellor

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate Arthur Schnitzler’s depiction of three female figures in short stories with a specific focus on how the figures are portrayed in relation to socially sanctioned roles in late nineteenth and early twentieth century German-speaking Europe. The figures and works selected as subjects of this study were Friederike in Die Frau des Weisen (1898), Elise in Der Mörder (1921) and Else in Fräulein Else (1924). The primary question that was investigated was whether Schnitzler depicted these female figures in a manner that could be interpreted as impacting the loosening of the grip of such expectations on women. As an approach, passages in the text that mirror expectations placed on women by society in this era were sought out and analyzed. Prior to the analysis of the three figures, information on the major trends of such expectations was identified through selected passages in Hedwig Dohm’s Der Frauen Natur und Recht (1876). Results of the study demonstrated that Schnitzler often depicted these figures in a manner resembling the views of sanctioned roles as expressed by Dohm. While Schnitzler did not portray the figures as specifically breaking out of such roles, he appeared to make a statement regarding the toxicity level in his society for women as a result of the roles that were imposed upon them. Additional findings were that Schnitzler’s boldness in his depiction of the figures seemed to increase over time and that many observations that critics have made about his dramas could also be said of these works of prose.

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