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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development of the woman in the major short stories and novels of Ricarda Huch Sanders, Joan

Abstract

In this thesis, the development of the major women protagonists in Ricarda Huch's novels and short stories is investigated. Evolving from purely Romantic figures to women who combine Romantic and rationalistic qualities, Ricarda Huch's women undergo three stages of development which correspond to three distinct periods in the life of the author, spent in Zurich, Bremen-Vienna-Trieste, and Munich. In Zurich, Ricarda Huch is absorbed in the woman who is an incorporation of a completely Romantic outlook; a woman who is dominated by emotion of such power that it ultimately overcomes the will to live itself. In the second period of her writing, Ricarda Huch portrays women, whose lives are also centred in emotion but are endowed with ethical purpose. They are willing to sacrifice connections with home and society for the sake of the men they love. The third and last period dealt with in this thesis is that of Ricarda Huch's life in Munich where she is a wife and mother. The figure of Farfalla in Aus der Triumphgasse serves as a transitional protagonist leading to Ricarda Huch's final statements on woman's place in the world. Set in bleakest poverty, this novel shows us woman reduced to her most essential nature and deprived of any morality except devotion to her children. Woman is now seen as a passive creature doomed to love, to suffer and to sacrifice in vain. Nevertheless, she ensures the continuance of mankind and finds consolation and purpose in that function. Rose in Michael Unger and Maielies in Von den Königen und der Krone recapitulate the whole development of Ricarda Huch's woman. They begin as naïve creatures centred in emotion, they gradually acquire ethical purpose, they find their sacrifice rejected, they are devoted to their children and they are left as onlookers in life. Resigned but not despairing, they choose to observe the course of events rationally. An investigation of Ricarda Huch's women characters would not be complete without a discussion of the Romantic concept of woman. In no one particular chapter of her critical works on the Romantics, does Ricarda Huch deal with Romantic woman, but throughout her writings on the Romantics, she discusses in general both Novalis' and Friedrich Schlegel's views on the role of woman. The first chapter of this thesis dealing with Caroline Schlegel is included because of her affinity with Ricarda Huch. There is no doubt after reading Ricarda Huch's writings on Caroline Schlegel as a great Romantic figure, that they are kindred spirits even though a century separated them. Not only was Ricarda Huch interested and impressed by Caroline Schlegel but her female characters, especially in her later periods of writing, bear marked resemblance to Caroline. Marie Baum, one of Ricarda Huch's closest friends, has compiled Ricarda Huch's correspondence with her, other friends and business associates in two volumes, entitled Briefe an die Freunde (Tübingen, 1955), and Leuchtende Spur, Das Leben Ricarda Huchs (Tübingen, 1950). I have relied heavily on these two volumes to show the close relationship between the author's development and that of her feminine characters mentioned above.

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