First Advisor

Franz Langhammer

Term of Graduation

Spring 1971

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


Foreign Languages




Prostitutes in literature, Frank Wedekind (1864-1918)



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 66 pages)


The prostitute and the concept of prostitution played a meaningful role in both Frank Wedekind's life and his dramatic efforts. From his early youth to the writing of his drama Schloss Wetterstein (1910), Wedekind remained deeply interested in the personal, social and philosophical problems generated by the existence of the prostitute and what he imagined her sensually based philosophy of life to be. Four of Wedekind's dramas were dealt with, which seem to be representative of his struggle to vindicate his own corresponding philosophy of sensuality.

The first drama, Elins Erweckung (Elin's Awakening-1887), is important as his first drama dealing with the prostitute. It is largely socio-critical in tone and develops character types, which will later appear in other Wedekind dramas concerning the prostitute. Das Sonnenspektrum (Spectrum of the Sun-1894), the fragmentary, second play analysed, develops the theme of sensual joy carried to its practical limit: a garden of physical love, where art and man's physical appetites live in harmony. The philosophical implications of unrestrained physical love, as embodied by the prostitute, take on a darker hue in the third drama, Tod und Teufel (Death and the Devil-1905). In this drama Wedekind's disillusionment with sensual love is shown. Its characters are not freely enjoying their unrestrained sensuality; they are driven by inner, bestial forces to their destruction. Wedekind attempts to rescue daemonic sexuality in the final drama worked with, Schloss Wetterstein (Wetterstein Castle). He creates the ''Edelhure'' (Noble Whore) in this work, who triumphs philosophically over sensual pleasure, but pays with her life. Her death is proud, but real. With Schloss Wetterstein ends Wedekind's attempt to reconcile unrestrained sensuality with practical reality. He found that the prostitute could not outrun the fate inevitably awaiting her, if she (and himself) looked for the meaning of life on the dark side of Man's existence. Death only, awaits those who open Pandora's Box.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Persistent Identifier