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Weavers


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A: Gerhart Hauptmann Pf: 1893, Berlin; 1st public perf. 1894 Pb: 1892 Tr: 1899 G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose, also version in Silesian dialect S: Silesia, 1844 C: 26m, 11f, 3 children, extrasThe rich employer Dreissiger pays miserable amounts to the starving weavers who bring him the cloth they have woven at home. Although he promises more employment to the unhappy workers, this is in fact a move to lower their rates of pay. One of the weavers, who has not eaten meat for two years, cooks his dog and eats it, but cannot keep the meal down. Moritz Jäger, a soldier, urges the weavers to rebel and begins to sing the defiant ‘Weavers' Song’. As the tension mounts, the Dreissigers dine well at home, entertaining the complacent Pastor and angrily dismissing the concerns of the young tutor Weinhold. Jäger is arrested as one of the leaders of the mob, but he answers all questions defiantly. The mob attack the police, free Jäger, and beat the Pastor. The Dreissigers escape just before the weavers burst into their home, smashing everything they find. The army are called in to quell the riot, and while the pious old Hilse sits weaving, he is shot by a stray bullet.

A: Gerhart Hauptmann Pf: 1893, Berlin; 1st public perf. 1894 Pb: 1892 Tr: 1899 G: Drama in 5 acts; German prose, also version in Silesian dialect S: Silesia, 1844 C: 26m, 11f, 3 children, extras

Although set in the 1840s, The Weavers became a focus for contemporary revolutionary sentiment in the repressive regime of the Kaiser. It was licensed for public performance only on the grounds that the ticket prices would be too high for working-class audiences to be affected by the events of the play. Dramaturgically, its interest lies in the way that the tragedy focuses not on an individual but on a whole community, thus marking a change from classical historical tragedy to the wider perspective of documentary drama.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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