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Son


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A: Walter Hasenclever Pf: 1916, Prague Pb: 1914 Tr: None known G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose and some verse S: Middle-class home, meeting hall, and hotel room in a German town, early 20th c. C: 8m, 2fDespite believing in his own genius, the 20-year-old Son has again failed his examinations, and is confined to his room by his tyrannical father. Lyrically yearning for fulfilment away from this arid learning, he contemplates but rejects suicide. Encouraged by his Friend, he woos his young Governess. His Father, unmoved by his Son's filial devotion and furious that he reads literature rather than study for his exams, will arrange for the Son to go into business. The Son is called from despair by his Friend magically appearing and inviting him to escape through the window. At midnight, an assembly of young men gathers to discuss the ‘possibility of a new religion’. Backstage, they argue over who is to address the meeting, and the Son steps through the curtain to speak. Baring his chest to reveal the scars from his Father's beatings, the Son calls for a revolt against Fathers and is received with ecstatic jubilation. Exploiting his freedom, the Son meets a prostitute in a hotel room. The Friend, to provoke a final confrontation, tells the Father of his Son's whereabouts and hands the Son a loaded revolver. The Son is arrested by the police, and the Friend, his task complete, commits suicide. In a final meeting with his Father, the Son produces the revolver, and the mere shock kills his Father. The Son and the Governess declare their love and celebrate their newly won freedom.

A: Walter Hasenclever Pf: 1916, Prague Pb: 1914 Tr: None known G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose and some verse S: Middle-class home, meeting hall, and hotel room in a German town, early 20th c. C: 8m, 2f

Although now rarely staged, The Son is significant in being the first truly Expressionist play to be performed (a year before Sorge's The Beggar). It replaced psychological interest in character (indicated by their lack of names) with an elemental conflict between the generations: as it transpired, an accurate allegory of the eventual overthrow of the Kaiser to be replaced by a young (nominally) socialist government, without a shot being fired.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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