This study guide will help you analyze the play Woyzeck by Georg Büchner. You can also find a summary of the text, full characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting the play and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: Woyzeck (1877)

Author: Georg Büchner

Genre: Play

Georg Büchner (1813-1837) was a German playwright and poet, as well as a revolutionary. He wrote several plays that reflected his social and political views, such as Danton's Death and Leonce and Lena.

Georg Büchner died before finishing the play Woyzeck, which is why there are currently several variants that offer different scene arrangements for the play. Woyzeck deals with the troubles of a soldier belonging to the lower class, who is humiliated by his superiors and who discovers that his lover is cheating on him with a drum major. The play tackles important issues, such as poverty, mental illness, and class differences.


Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide: 

A social drama 

Georg Büchner wrote his play Woyzeck in 1836, about 12 years before the beginning of the literary epoch of realism. Therefore, it may seem paradoxical to look for features of realism in his play. Surprisingly, several elements of the story are characterized by realism. 

Several analysts have even characterized the play as an early form and precursor of realism. Woyzeck, however, is not a work that can be classified as realism, especially because the story does not focus on the simple bourgeoisie, but on the life and fate of a common soldier. 

Büchner portrays contemporary society very realistically in his social drama. Woyzeck has financial problems, an illegitimate child, and cannot marry his lover because he does not have enough money. He is then cheated on by Marie who has an affair with someone who is on a higher social hierarchy than him. In order to portray Franz Woyzeck's situation realistically, Büchner drew inspiration from real life for this work...

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