Term of Graduation

Spring 1970

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


World Languages and Literatures




Werner Bergengruen -- 1892-1964 -- Beichtsiegel



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 69 leaves)


Werner Bergengruen has written Das Beichtsiegel as a story, but I believe that except for its narrative form, this story is a Seelendrama in the tradition of Goethe’s Tasso. Das Beichtsiegel answers the definition of a Seelendrama and fulfils its purpose. In a Seelendrama the action takes place within the soul of the hero. His soul is torn by an inner conflict. As it is impossible to escape one’s own soul, the conflict tears the hero apart. In the first part of my thesis I have made a comparison between Das Beichtsiegel and Tasso. This comparison reveals that both characters, Goethe’s Tasso and Bergengruen’s Priest Martin, suffer from conflicts of the soul, and these conflicts finally destroy each man in its inner-self. In the second part of my thesis I have analyzed the reasoning and actions of Priest Martin. Through the confession of a stranger Martin finds out about an alleged murder plot against Princess Elisabeth, the daughter of Count von Thann-Ballenstein, whose confessor Martin is. The confession seals Martin’s lips and forces him to live in constant fear. Martin tries in vain to protect Elisabeth from her alleged fate. The priest turns into a detecti ve and Elisabeth’s lifeguard. In his soul there arises the conflict between his duty of confessional silence and his love for Elisabeth. Finally Martin must bow to God’s will and admit that each person must accept, bear and fulfil his own fate. According to the dramatic effect, I have divided Das Beichtsiegel into five scenes, in which I have followed Martin’s agony step by step. The secondary literature used in this part consists of thirteen sources, which I collected during my study year in Germany.


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