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February 28, 2010

The EARLY 19th Century (continued) and Georg Büchner’s _Woyzeck_

Image Source: http://www.vorein.com/woyzeck/bilder/woyzeck.jpg

23 March 2010

ENG 226 Students:

Two things:

1. A reminder about the play
2. An online service you can use, as Saint Leo Students, to help with your papers (in any course you take at Saint Leo)

(see below)


_Woyzeck_ will be performed at . . .

. . . the main campus, March 24-27 at 8:00pm (seating at 7:30).

The Saint Leo University Theatre Company will produce Georg Büchner’s classic modernist piece, _Woyzeck_ (pronounced voyt’-seck), March 24 through 27 in Selby Auditorium.

Admission is free and all performances start at 8:00 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m. This play has no intermission, and latecomers will not be seated after the show starts.

Based loosely on the life of an actual soldier, the play tells the story of a man, Franz Woyzeck, whose paranoia and delusions force themselves to come true. This classic piece of modern theatre merits a rating of PG-13 for some violence and mild language.

For more information contact Mr. David McGinnis, Assistant Professor of English and Theater, at either (352) 588-8401 or by e-mail: david.mcginnis@saintleo.edu.


Also, please give this new service a try with your final papers and give me some feedback. Is it a good service? Is it/Was it worth your time?

Sentenceworks is an automated grammar tutor and revision tool for academic writing. A web-based application, Sentenceworks works one-on-one with a student to develop sentence-level writing skills, prevent plagiarism, and reinforce proper revision habits. Upload drafts of your writing assignments to Sentenceworks to receive immediate instructional feedback on over 100 points of grammar and double-check if all sources are properly cited.

To access the program, go to www.Sentenceworks.com and register using your Saint Leo email address. Once you have registered you will receive an email confirming your registration. Click on the link in the confirmation email and your will have full access to Sentenceworks for the period of the pilot at no charge.


See you in class,

Dr. Hobbs

Posted by lhobbs at February 28, 2010 02:00 PM

Readers' Comments:

Antonette Boynes
Dr. Hobbs
Woyzeck Reading Response

The first few minutes of watching Woyzeck, I was more than confused even though I read the summary and study guide. It seemed to be quite different. As it continued, it was evident of what the play was about, and it reminded me of some of the readings previously assigned in this course.
Woyzeck’s initial characteristic to grasp my attention was his sudden outburst that signified some sort of unstableness in his mind. It was obvious that he was a victim of the conflict known as man vs self, which seemingly tied in with The Diary of a Madman by Gogol. At times, Woyzeck, just like Poprishchin appeared lucid and sensible, but at other times, there would be all sorts of screaming and gibberish coming out of his mouth. Another attribute of the play that was a major theme in Gogol’s works was Classism. Woyzeck blames his way of life on that fact that he was poor quoting that if he was rich man he would have more manners and be smarter.
Just like in The Diary of a Madman when the upperclassmen used and abused Poprishchin because he was not of the higher classes, Woyzeck’s fate was parallel in where he was basically a servant and lab rat to all of his surroundings including his captain, doctor, girlfriend/wife, and everyone and everything around him. A very easy way of summing up Woyzeck’s bizarre situation is to say that he was a product of his environment. Because of what the world served him he ended up in his lowly stagnant position.
The last and most important idea, in my opinion, of Woyzeck was the need to quantify- to reduce all knowledge to nothing but data-reduces knowledge itself to nothing. This same concept was applied in the reading Faust by Geothe. With all his knowledge and intellect, Faust still felt as though he knew nothing because most of his stored information was comprised of facts and figures and not the bigger picture about God and beings which Woyzeck and his girlfriend/wife also suffered from.
In the end like said before, Woyzeck was chiefly a product of his environment and portrayed superiorly exactly how the world itself is a force that acts upon a person and must be pushed back against concluding in man vs nature.

Posted by: Antonette Boynes at March 27, 2010 02:44 PM

Antonette Boynes
Dr. Hobbs

Woyzeck Entry Ticket #5
Q1) During the play, Woyzeck said to his captain that maybe if he was wealthier he would have more manners and intelligence. How does this evolve around the play’s plot and possibly the world today?
A1) In his statement to his captain, Woyzeck implied that because of his lowly class status in society he is not as good as others; his wealth determines how much of a man he is. Because of this, Woyzeck is constantly taken advantage of by everyone from his captain to his doctor who uses him as a lab rat for an experiment that could have led to his slight insanity. Even his girlfriend cheated on him and treated him like dirt. He is obviously the outcome of the struggles of the world. One of the main themes of the play is Classism which Woyzeck represents when he exclaims that his circumstances are relevant to his social class. It is almost the same today in the world where the more wealthy people are looked up and expected to be more intelligent by attending college. The world at times, can seem to be a system based on Classism.

Posted by: Antonette Boynes at March 27, 2010 08:48 PM

Tommy Tagliavia
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
24 March 2010
Woyzeck Reflection
For the play Woyzeck, performed at Saint Leo University, and the brief synopsis on the plays study guide there were a lot of differences between the two. Plays always have their variations depending on the director and author. Although throughout the play and synopsis majority of it was similar, there were key points in the play that were different which is probably due to the fact that the main author, Georg Buchner, died before finishing this play.
One difference throughout the play that I realized was Franz’s social life and his relationship with his wife. In Saint Leo’s play, Franz had been accompanied by a friend of his who was also a lowly soldier and he was able to talk things over with and just try to keep himself sane. In the synopsis, it does not state that Franz had a friend to talk to or that there was another soldier with him at the time. Franz’s relationship with his wife, Marie, was anything but good in both the synopsis and the play. However, in the play Marie doesn’t seem to grow tired of Franz although she isn’t too pleased with him throughout the play. In the synopsis it states that Marie is tired of Franz but during the play she seems to be more loving especially when he gives her money.
Another difference in this play is Marie’s reaction to the “rape”. When the drum major says “Now that’s a woman”, he gave her earrings and she was interested form that point. When he forced her into the room in the play she seemed a little more willing then what rape is defined as. However in the synopsis it was just stated as arguably raping her.
The main difference in this play and synopsis is the ending. Like in majority of the plays the difference is the ending because Buchner never finished the play due to death. In the ending of the play the ending was defined as him imaging seeing his dead wife Marie and him falling into her lap. In the synopsis Franz goes to clean the knife, instead of just dumping it into the lake, and he drowns while cleaning the knife. In the play Franz does not die, the play ends just with him in the lap of his wife. Also, he did not dispose the body in the lake in the play, he killed her and just left her on the ground acting in denial of the killing of his wife.

Posted by: tommy at March 29, 2010 11:16 AM

Diana Parizon
Dr. Hobbs
English 226H
30 March 2010
An Insight on Woyzeck
All in all, Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck” was a very strange play. The play was about a poor hard-working man named Woyzeck, who throughout the course of the play became insane while his captain and a doctor talked about the search for the truth. I thought the doctor and his captain spoke in a condescending manner toward Woyzeck. They raised questions like what is decency? Does being a gentleman means having self-control? And most importantly where did mankind come from? In the play, the idea was that mankind was created out of dust and sand and humans descended from monkeys, who serve as the power of reason. Ironically, before the show started, a small creative performance was held by Julia Teal (the showman) and Dan Losey (the monkey). It represented exactly one of the main points of the play. The monkey jovially toyed around with the audience members by messing with them different ways. This demonstrated just how uncivilized and uncontrolled all species are, whether they be monkey or human.
The reason Woyzeck becomes insane and violent in the end can be attributed to his failed attempt to answer the questions placed before him. In addition, his unfaithful companion Marie caused him to lose his sanity. In the beginning, the whole view of the world was pessimistically represented. Out of the blue, an elderly woman stepped forward and told not a fairy tale as would be expected, but an anti-fairy tale where no hope exists at all. According to her, if one is poor and miserable, he or she is destined to stay poor and miserable – nothing can be done. Even Marie states in the play that damnation continues “on and on”. For me, this play was very depressing for these reasons. Later in the play, Woyzeck killed Marie with high aggression and rage, but then pretends he did not kill her by talking to the dead body later. He is insane! However, the last scene of the play is captured with Woyzeck kneeling in front of Marie (as an imagined apparition) asking for forgiveness for the sins he committed. But it could be also interpreted as Woyzeck seeking comfort in Marie by her stroking his head. After killing her, Woyzeck was left only with his illegitimate child, whom he could not bring himself to accept. Overall, the whole play confused me, especially with the rapid turning point as the end, but because of the theme of the play, it plays an important role in literature.

Posted by: D.Parizon at March 30, 2010 08:56 AM

Muriel Clemens
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 226 Survey of English Literature II (Honors)
March 28, 2010

By Goerge Büchner
The play Woyzeck by Goerge Büchner was performed at Saint Leo University this past weekend. The students who put the play together did an excellent job with the little they had to work with. The actors were well rehearsed and did an outstanding job. The play followed the study guide closely and ended as expected. It is unfortunate that the theater department has such limited resources because so much more could have been done to make the play easier to understand. There were too few cast members so they had to play multiple roles, which made it very confusing. Because of the shortage of actors I had no idea who some of the characters were. For instance, who was Karl the idiot? Where did he come from?
Aside from my confusion, the play did make some social statements. Because Woyzeck was poor, the Doctor was very cruel to him but he had to endure if he wanted to get paid. It was implied that the poverty was what caused the mental breakdown. Woyzeck was a man who had no future. He was poor and had no way out. It is no wonder he went insane.
All in all, Woyzeck is not the type of play I would have paid money to go and see. The subject matter was depressing, the acting was good but confusing, and the resources were lacking. I’m sorry if I sound like a snob because I’m not. The students did a very good job with what they had and I was impressed with their abilities.

Posted by: M. Clemens at March 30, 2010 06:38 PM

Patricia Pothier -- It can be determined that Woyzeck is a tragedy after watching just the first act. Woyzeck’s pathetic life appears to be one misfortune after another. In all there were four separate endings to the play. At the time of Buchner’s death it was unclear as to which ending the author would have preferred; however the ending most widely used is the one which results in Woyzeck’s drowning. The play that was performed here at school utilized this popular ending.
An alternative ending that was offered consisted of Woyzeck standing trial and being executed. This provides the audience with a sense of justice. Faced with the brutality of his crime he must live with the weight of his action until he is put to death. I probably would have preferred this ending simply because his drowning seemed too convenient. The school’s production alluded to a psychotic break which split Woyzeck’s mind from reality. He seemed to be unaware that he actually killed Marie. This idea is reinforced when the audience discovers that he also believes that it was her who was telling him how to dispose of the murder weapon. Perhaps a trial would have ended the medical trial of peas resulting in the restoration of Woyzeck’s sanity which would have forced him to understand what he did.
Another ending that has been suggested is one in which Woyzeck simply returns home and embraces his child. I was less than enthused at this one. It seems highly unlikely that he would escape punishment for the murder. His mental state would not have been conducive to raising a child whose mother he just butchered.
I understand that Woyzeck’s drowning could be seen as bringing a sort of balance to the play. The force of all that is good and natural gave Woyzeck what he deserved. I was a little confused as to how the man could have drowned but none the less, the authors rendition ended with Woyzeck washing blood from his clothes. I suppose his drowning seems probable as he is already standing by a body of water. Perhaps there can be a sense of justice found in this ending. I would like to believe that Woyzeck’s subconscious guilt manifested itself into action as he waded into the deep water especially if he knew he could not swim. This is a rather farfetched idea though.

Posted by: Patricia Pothier at March 31, 2010 04:18 PM

Dana Jennings
Dr. Hobbs

Fractured Woyzeck

George Buchner’s Woyzeck was an interesting play to attend. I was impressed with the level of skill and talent that the actors displayed in their portrayals of the characters. I was glad to see that the student-actors exceeded my expectations, and that the Saint Leo University drama department has attracted good actors.

I felt that the screenplay sufficiently described the fractured insanity that Franz Woyzeck personified, but that the plot was too fractured to successfully tie everything together in the emotional and superbly devised final scene. The audience was left with many questions upon exiting the auditorium, with some poignant questions about the major plot. I believe that the screenplay deliberately attempted to convey the madness in Woyzeck by utilizing the abstract and highlighting some parts of the original screenplay, but that doing so minimized certain aspects of the original that I would consider integral to the major plot.

The scene in which the Drum Major beats up Woyzeck is ambiguous, and it is unclear that Woyzeck actually challenges the Drum Major specifically. It is implied that in the original, his jealousy compels him to seek out and challenge the Drum Major, resulting in his humiliating defeat. But in this rendition, he says nothing and only gets into the Drum Major’s face, resulting in his beating. I believe that this ambiguity steals the scene of its power, resulting in an unclear and vague impression that some vital part of the plot has passed without full recognition by the audience.

The Doctor’s experiment is also minimized in this portrayal. The audience isn’t even told that an experiment is taking place until well into the production. To fully understand that Woyzeck’s insanity stems fully from these experiments was glossed over, and it is possible that the audience would interpret that Woyzeck is insane for other reasons, i.e. his jealousy, his low station in life, etc. I believe that these omissions and vague scenes are integral to the main plot, and leaving them out gives the audience a feeling of confusion and being deprived of the whole meaning of the story.

Posted by: Dana Jennings at April 5, 2010 11:19 AM

Mary Strand
ENG 226
Dr. Hobbs
March 30, 2010


I thought the Saint Leo University Theatre Department did an outstanding job putting on their rendition of George Buchner’s play, Woyzeck. With limited resources, stage space, and actors, I believed the production to be a success. The actors were very convincing and the story line, although I had done previous reading, was seemingly clear. There were obvious scenes and characters that were left out, but I saw that it was fit for this production. I was also very fond of the fact that the company did not try to tie in any elaborate ending to the play that may or may not have been Buchner’s intention. Ending with the scene in heaven, was unique, and added yet another overly dramatic scene to the play, that fit together very nicely.
Being a Psychology major, instances where people lose their sense of reality, in literature and in life, always interests me. I really enjoyed the way in which the SLU theatre company went about depicting Woyzeck’s mental deterioration throughout the play. It was subtle, yet understood, that he was losing his grip on reality. The lighting and music used to emphasis his condition was very well done.
Losing the capacity to function and think straight, because of medical experiments is something very hard for people of our time to imagine. Some may view Woyzeck as a cruel man, and most importantly a murderer. But, it has to be understood that these types of ‘experiments’, such as limiting one’s diet to nothing but peas and alcohol, happened time and time again in order for modern medicine to be at the advanced state it is now. The play was a sad tale of a lost and lonely man, destined to a most terrible fate. The sun does not always rise in the same beautiful way that some believe it to be. It may not always be a guiding and reassuring light; for some, it may be the scariest thing that they have ever seen… It may not be a sun at all. This is what Woyzeck was dealing with, and it turned out to be too much for him.

Posted by: mary strand at April 13, 2010 07:44 AM

Katie Ganning
Dr. B. L. Hobbs
ENG226: Survey of World Literature II
30 March 2010
The difficulty of comparing a study guide and a play production lies between the person who is studying both. If one was to walk into the play with only the knowledge of what the playbill read, they most likely would not understand what exactly is taking place during the beginning, but as you meet the other characters, one is able to draw a conclusion as to what is bothering Woyzeck mentally and physically. The study guide tells the reader that this play is a tragedy with a more than likely chance it is not meant to end happy, however with the visual of the mannerism between the characters, one can draw the comic relief that certain characters portray.
During the play, one cannot realize that Marie was raped by the drum major because of her feelings and actions towards him and after he leaves, she defends him. Another difficulty in understanding the performance was the location that each scene took place. It seemed as if each scene could have been in almost any location and it was up to the audience to choose where in their minds each scene took place.
What made this play so interesting are the different endings that authors added in order to complete the play. The production that was performed was suspected to be the most well organized ending. As much as one could be confused by the play, it is different than most because since they are many different endings and are not giving all the information which the study guide gives, one can create their own story of Woyzeck in their minds and possible even add something to the production that no one has thought of previously.

Posted by: Katie Ganning at April 13, 2010 08:35 AM


Due April 13, 2010


In February of 1837, Georg Buchner died at the young age of twenty-three leaving his work entitled Woyzeck unfinished. It was not published until 1879 and the version was “heavily reworked” by Karl Emil Franzos and has since received several editings and endings.

The story follows a soldier man named Franz Woyzeck who is slowly losing his mind. His position in the lower ring of society drives him to participate in medical experiments run by the Doctor in one of which he is instructed to eat nothing but peas. His relationship with the mother of his illegitimate child, Marie, comes under strain and she seeks companionship elsewhere. When Woyzeck finds out about Marie cheating on him with the young drum major, in a fit of jealousy (and probable psychosis) he cuts Marie’s throat and then stabs her repeatedly. I have not read the play itself but in the schools production of Woyzeck, he asks Marie, “What is that red string around your neck? Who did you sleep with for this necklace?” Earlier in the play, Marie received a pair of earrings for the young drum major. He is delusional to the fact that it is fact blood from the terrible throat slitting that she received at his hands. At the end of the play he goes into water to wash the blood off of his clothes and ends up drowning in the deep end. Two characters stand at center stage debating as the whether or not they hear a man drowning one saying that it “surely” sounds like a man drowning but neither go to see if it is so. The final act in the school’s production shows Franz and Marie reuniting in the afterlife; he lays his head on her lap and the lights fade out.

Since I have not read the actual play I cannot say how the ending differs from one version to another, but I did enjoy the story as told by our cast. We hear of many crimes of passion these days. Most recently, a pop singer in Serbia was shot in the head by her boyfriend who then took his own life. Jealousy is as ugly as any other disease and it can lead to dire consequences. In the case of Woyzeck, it led to his demise. Frankly, I think he was doomed from the start but I can’t help but wonder how Buchner would have ended the play had he not met his early demise as well. Kind of ironic if you ask me...

Overall, I liked the play. I think that the cast put in a lot of hard work and I was rather entertained by the “monkey” that went around before the show started. I’m curious as to why they chose him instead of anyone else in the cast but I’m going to assume it was for the comedic factor.

Posted by: Branka T at April 13, 2010 10:36 AM

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