First Advisor

Franz Langhammer

Term of Graduation

Spring 1972

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German


Foreign Languages




Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946) -- Characters -- Women, Women in literature



Physical Description

1 online resource (89 pages)


Gerhart Hauptmann, whose naturalistic period embraced the years 1885-1906, gave the world a negative picture of the woman who by her demeanor or actions destroys a man. In this thesis a distinction is drawn between lower class, unsophisticated women like Lene Thiel or Hanne Sehäl and more highly educated and somewhat emancipated women such as Anna Mahr and Hanna Elias. The former type destroyed the man through more coarse or brutal methods while the latter naturally employed a higher degree of sophistication exercising their destructive influence. Moreover, the former type married the men they subsequently ruined whereas the latter did not. The one aspect which unites all of the Hauptmann women in these works was the destructive influence, and the corresponding weakness of the men. The hopelessness of the situation in which the men found themselves was one of the important characteristics of Naturalism.

No defender of women's emancipation, Hauptmann scorned the enlightened, educated women by making them just as unsuccessful as their less educated and unsophisticated counterparts. This point was made more distinctly in a Hauptmann drama of a later period entitled Insel der Grossen Mutter which appeared in 1924. The history of the time indicates the presence of a significant movement in the field of women's emancipation in Europe.

Many of the models for Hauptmann's women were taken from real life. With the possible exception of Anna Mahr in Einsame Menschen, Hugh Garten's assertion that Hauptmann's women "are closer than men to the irrational forces of life" appears true. This exception may also be one of the finest characterizations of Hauptmann. The intrigant is remembered as one of the contributions of this commanding figure of German literature.


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