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The narrator's portrayal of the women in Goethe's "Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre"

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Title: The narrator's portrayal of the women in Goethe's "Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre"
Author(s): French, Shelley Susan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Haile, H. G.
Department / Program: Germanic Languages and Literatures
Discipline: Germanic Languages and Literatures
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Literature, Germanic Women's Studies
Abstract: Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre begins with the simple sentence "Das Schauspiel dauerte sehr lange." But in a matter of paragraphs the narrator begins to emerge as a character in the story. He addresses his audience directly. He expresses his opinions on a variety of subjects. Through his treatment of the female characters the narrator's personality develops. The narrator treats Mariane with compassion. Mariane has two lovers, Wilhelm, whom she claims to love, and Norberg, who helps support her. Mariane must prevent her two lovers from meeting. The narrator portrays Mariane's situation with humor and concern. He does not appear to disapprove of her. He appears to be a sensitive man who understands women.The narrator does not present Philine with the same tolerance he shows Mariane. The narrator calls Mariane "das arme Madchen" but he calls Philine "das leichtfertige Madchen" or "die angenehme Sunderin". His attitude toward free-spirited women seems to have changed, for Philine is no less moral than Mariane.With the introduction of Mignon, the reader sees another type of presentation. In general, the narrator presents Mignon objectively. He does not seem to approve or disapprove of her. He remains distant. His distance is most apparent in his portrayal of Mignon's funeral. He has no thoughts for her. He is fascinated by the procedures of enbalming and interring her.While the narrator seems capable of objectivity when he presents Mignon, he lacks all objectivity when he portrays Natalie. Therese, who is presented as an admirable woman, appears to pale in comparison to Natalie. She is called "die schone Amazone" and the narrator appears to be as capivated by her as Wilhelm is. Natalie is presented as the perfect woman. The narrator's presentation of her seems to be the result of an identification with Wilhelm.The narrator reacts differently to each character. He presents the characters according to his perception of their worth. Through his presentation of the female characters the narrator's prejudices are made clear and his personality emerges.
Issue Date: 1992
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/22650
Rights Information: Copyright 1992 French, Shelley Susan
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9305526
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9305526
 

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