UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Stasis and metamorphosis : modes of characterization in the works of Fritz von Unruh Buffinga, John O.


The purpose of this investigation is to arrive at an understanding of Fritz von Unruh's work by examining the author's modes of characterization. Unruh repeatedly introduces kindred characters, character types, and configurations of characters, but uses differing methods of characterization to portray them. By investigating the works completed between 1910 and 1932 and by relating Unruh's techniques of characterization to the total structure of these works, a pattern may be observed which demonstrates that Unruh gradually adapts pre-Expressionist methods of characterization to those typically associated with Expressionism, by depersonalizing hi; characters and by subordinating them to the portrayal of one central figure. This pattern has its roots in the pre-war dramas, culminates in the works completed during the war, and attenuates in the post-war plays. The various stages of this metamorphosis are ultimately related to the message-oriented nature of the works. In the early plays, the conventions of pre-Expressionist drama are gradually adapted to suit the portrayal of contemporary Wilhelminian reality and of a central figure who fights for a reintroduction of the ideals of the past. In the works completed between 1914 and 1918 the author subjects his major characters to a transformation: he presents the figures as types, uses a form of character fragmentation, and makes the plot development as well as the scenic and dialogue composition subservient to the propagation of the ideas incorporated by the central characters. In the post-war plays, finally, each of these modes of character delineation is increasingly less subservient to the major figures, but characterizes the negative, unredeemed world about them, against which they have to assert themselves. In these plays, the redemption of man is no longer sought in a past or present reality, but in a realm in which objective reality is transfigured and transformed.

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