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Broken Jug


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AT: The Broken Pitcher A: Heinrich von Kleist Pf: 1808, Weimar Pb: 1811 Tr: 1961 G: Com. in 13 scenes; German blank verse S: A courtroom in a Dutch village, late 18th c. C: 5m, 5f, extrasAdam, a village judge, is bandaging some cuts on his leg and has mysteriously lost his wig. He is alarmed to learn that a court official is on his way from the neighbouring town. The main case that Adam has to hear is brought by the voluble Frau Marthe against a peasant lad Ruprecht. She accuses him of having broken her jug, while secretly visiting her daughter Eve. It soon becomes clear that Adam has something to hide, especially when he enthusiastically encourages Ruprecht to accuse a fellow villager. However, the discovery of Adam's wig and Eve's denunciation of him confirms that it was the judge who forced his way into Eve and broke the jug when he left.

AT: The Broken Pitcher A: Heinrich von Kleist Pf: 1808, Weimar Pb: 1811 Tr: 1961 G: Com. in 13 scenes; German blank verse S: A courtroom in a Dutch village, late 18th c. C: 5m, 5f, extras

Acknowledged as one of the finest of the few classic German comedies, Kleist's play has serious undertones. The naming of the judge as Adam and the tempting young woman as Eve suggests that behind the levity of the trivial incidents of the play, Kleist is pointing to the irony that, since the Fall, man sits in judgement on his own guilt, just as Oedipus does in Sophocles’ play. First directed by Goethe at the Court Theatre of Weimar, the play was received with hostility, one courtier even being placed under house arrest for hissing.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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