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Bremen Coffee


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AT: Bremen Freedom A: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Pf: 1971, Bremen Pb: 1972 Tr: 1977 G: Drama in 1 act; German prose and songs S: Bremen, 1814–c.1820 C: 8m, 3fJohann Miltenberger, owner of a saddle shop, brutally abuses his wife Geesche and drags her off to bed to rape her. After a blackout he is seen dying, while Geesche sings before the crucifix: ‘World, farewell! of thee I'm tired.’ She begins living with Michael Gottfried, who takes over the business. When her Mother reproaches her for living in sin, Geesche, determined to free her Mother from the miserable life she is leading, gives her coffee, and her Mother dies of ‘intestinal inflammation’. Gottfried refuses to marry Geesche and begins to ill-treat her, so he too is given coffee, while she again sings her song before the crucifix. The priest marries Geesche to Gottfried on his deathbed. Her Father arrives with a cousin, who wants to marry Geesche and take over the business, which she is by now running very competently on her own. Father and cousin are served coffee, as is an importunate friend, who tries to call in a debt. Geesche's brother returns from the wars and demands to take over the business. He is given coffee, and Geesche sings her song. On learning that her friend Luisa is in a soulless marriage, she too is given coffee. Finally, a friend tells Geesche that he has had her sugar lumps analysed by the police, and Geesche prepares herself for execution by singing her song.

AT: Bremen Freedom A: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Pf: 1971, Bremen Pb: 1972 Tr: 1977 G: Drama in 1 act; German prose and songs S: Bremen, 1814–c.1820 C: 8m, 3f

Bremen Coffee shares many characteristics with Büchner's Woyzeck: it is based on a historical murderer with whom the author has sympathy, the scenes are episodic, the dialogue sparse and punctuated by folk song. Fassbinder's play, however, attempts no psychological explanations, and the eight murders accumulate rapidly in Grand Guignol fashion, challenging the audience with Fassbinder's provocative belief that a short, intense life (like his own) is worth more than a life lived in an alienated, half-conscious state.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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