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RELATION OF THE WALLENSTEIN DRAMA TO
The most difficult part of Schiller's task was the arrangement of his vast and complicated material, in a clear and simple dramatic action. No dramatic poet ever had to contend with a more stubborn and unpromising material, and nowhere can we better study and admire the consummate art of Schiller than in his mastery of his theme. Schiller never felt any scruples in changing the order and significance of events for artistic effect. Whatever limitations critics may have sought to place upon the poet in his use of historical facts, it is true that the greatest poets such as Shakspeare, Goethe and Schiller have frequently treated historical events with the greatest freedom.2 In the present drama it is important to determine what reasons induced Schiller to make his numerous deviations from history.
The necessities of the drama required a great reduction in the number of the persons who stood in relation to Wallenstein, and a clearer differentiation of their character and importance than was always indicated in the scources. There were the two great groups, one, of the friends and personal adherents of Wallenstein, and one, of his enemies. As Octavio was the only one of the leading conspirators present during Wallenstein's last days in Pilsen, he was given a more important rôle than he plays in history. It was probably for this reason that he was made the chief of the party of opposition, and the provisional successor of Wallenstein in the command of the army, although, as Schiller well knew, that position was held by Gallas. Octavio was in reality thirty-five years old at the time of Wallenstein's murder, but, as the head of the imperial party and as the father of Max, he had to be represented as an elderly man and as a long-tried servant of the emperor.3
Special importance attaches to the part assigned to Buttler. The historical Buttler, the scion of an ancient and noble Irish family, the husband of the Countess Phondana, could not be used for the rôle which he was to play in the drama. Schiller therefore represented him as an ambitious man, a typical plebeian, proud of his achievements and easily roused to feelings of revenge when his honor was assailed. The poet, deviating
I Cf. Schiller's letters to Goethe of Nov. 28, 1796, May 5, 1797, and Oct. 2, 1797. 2 See Lessing's Hamburgische Dramaturgie, Nos. 19, 23 and 33. Also Eckermann's Gespräche mit Goethe of Jan. 31, 1827.
3 Cf. notes to Piccol., 11. 298 and 1983.
from his source, made him and not Illo the victim of Wallenstein's duplicity. Wallenstein was thus made indirectly responsible for his own ruin. If Wallenstein's murder was to appear as the necessary result of the dramatic situation, Schiller had to represent Buttler as a member of Wallenstein's immediate circle of adherents, and not as meeting him accidentally on his march from Pilsen to Eger. In the murder itself, Buttler, the personal foe of Wallenstein, and not Lesley, was made to play the principal part, although according to history Lesley had the more prominent rôle in the catastrophe of Eger.
The historical Countess Terzky was not suited to Schiller's dramatic purpose. She was a gentle, quiet lady and indifferent to Wallenstein's political intrigues. At the time of the murder of her husband she was in Eger and awakened Wallenstein by her lamentations.2 She did not die by poison, but later contracted a second marriage. Needing a woman of high ambition and courage, who had understanding and sympathy for Wallenstein's far-reaching plans, Schiller endowed Countess Terzky with characteristics which were preeminent in her mother-inlaw, the Countess Maria Magdalena Terzky, and in her sister-inlaw, the Countess Elizabeth Kinsky.
The Duchess of Friedland and her daughter were at the time of Wallenstein's murder at Bruck on the Leitha, 3 and yet Schiller represented them as present in Pilsen and Eger, in order to lend a touch of human interest to Wallenstein's character and make the love-scenes between Max and Thekla possible.
Max and Thekla are entirely fictitious characters.4 Wallenstein's daughter, Maria Elizabeth, at the time of the catastrophe nine years old, and later on married to Count Kaunitz,5 could not be used by the poet. Schiller probably knew nothing of the fact that Octavio Piccolomini actually had a nephew Joseph Silvio, also called Max Piccolomini, whom he adopted, and who was slain in battle with the Swedes in 1645. Schiller's youthful hero derived his name from Maximilian von Waldstein, nephew and heir to the Duke of Friedland.
The battle of Neustadt, in which Max fell, is fictitious, although the battle of Jankau, in 1645, may have suggested to the poet a few features in the description. Schiller describes this
1 Cf. Murr, p. 172, and Schiller, Werke, XI, p. 308.
2 Cf. Murr, p. 340.
3 Murr, p. 338.
4 See Index under Piccolomini and Thekla.
5 Schiller must have known of her name and marriage from Murr, p. 358. 6 Cf. Tod, 3018 ff.
battle in his history, and mentions in it a „wütenden Anlauf der kaiserlichen Reiterei" against the Swedes, which was unsuccessful. The need of a strongly concentrated dramatic action required a radical change in the chronology of events in the last days of Wallenstein's life. In history a series of causes compel by degrees Wallenstein to rebel against the emperor; in the drama the unity of action demanded that the various forces which had been silently at work should reach their climax in one critical moment, and with irresistible power drive the hero to his fatal decision. The conflict between the General and the Court had therefore to be accentuated, and the final step of Wallenstein made to appear as inevitable. Events which occupied the last three months of Wallenstein's life were so concentrated in the drama as to cover a period of but four consecutive days.
Schiller's power of dramatic condensation is illustrated in the famous diplomatic scene between Questenberg and Wallenstein in the presence of the generals.2 In Questenberg's mission to Pilsen we have a combination of three distinct events. In August, 1633, Count von Schlick was sent to Wallenstein to expostulate with him upon his military inactivity, and, if possible, win over the officers to the imperial side. In December, 1633, Questenberg, who was really very friendly to Wallenstein, was sent to Pilsen to present to the general the imperial wishes in regard to the immediate prosecution of the war and the evacuation of Bohemia. Wallenstein ordered Illo to lay the emperor's demands before his officers, and they unanimously concurred in the opinion that a winter campaign was impossible. Finally the Capuchin monk Quiroga appeared, Jan. 5, 1634, in Pilsen to ask Wallenstein to send a detachment of six thousand horse as an escort to the Cardinal-Infant. All these demands of the Court are skillfully united in Questenberg's mission to Pilsen, and thus through the great audience scene in the second act of the Piccolomini we become acquainted with the important series of events that led to the fatal conflict between Wallenstein and the emperor.
The two meetings of Wallenstein's officers on Jan. 12, 1634, and Feb. 19, 1634, are likewise united into the one banquet scene in the fourth act of the Piccolomini, and an undramatic repetition is thus avoided and the action intensified.3 For similar reasons the two imperial orders of Jan. 24 and Feb. 18,
1 Cf. Schiller, Werke, XI, p. 369.
2 Piccol., Act II, Scene 7.
3 Cf. Introductory note to Act IV of the Piccolomini, and see Introd., pp. xxviii ff.
depriving Wallenstein of his command, are combined into one manifesto by which the general is not only deposed but also put under the ban of the empire.'
As Wallenstein's negotiations with the enemy are an important element in the action of the drama, Schiller introduces the masterly scene between Wrangel and Wallenstein which discloses to us the character and scope of these negotiations.2 This scene is without any historical foundation, as Wallenstein never met the Swedish general, Karl Gustav von Wrangel, whose military career really begins several years after Wallenstein's death.
The capture of Sesin is fictitious. It is introduced to accelerate the dramatic movement by forcing Wallenstein to immediate action. As Wallenstein's compromising despatches to Kinsky, Thurn, Oxenstjerna and Arnim 3 are in the hands of the Court, he must either join the Swedes or fall. Sesyma had, in reality, nothing to do with Wallenstein's final decision. Not till one and a half years after Wallenstein's murder did he divulge to the Court Wallenstein's negotiations with the Swedes.
The fall of Prague into the hands of the imperialists took place a few days earlier than it is represented in the drama. Suys captured the city on Feb. 20 and published there the imperial manifesto against Wallenstein.5
Wallenstein's murder is so dramatically described in Schiller's sources that on the whole he follows these quite faithfully. The main deviations consist here in reducing the number of persons who participated in the murder, and, as has been said, in the leading part assigned to Buttler. The gloomy fate which overtook Wallenstein is made complete by the destruction of his family, which is, however, contrary to history.
The drama abounds in many smaller deviations from history mentioned in the Notes and the Index, but on the whole it may be said that in his Wallenstein Schiller follows his sources much more closely than in his other historical dramas, and that his fictitious characters and scenes, and his changes in the chronology of events, were never arbitrary, but were most carefully considered and introduced solely for artistic effect.
1 Cf. Tod, 1. 1739, and note to Piccol., 1. 2500.
2 Cf. Tod, Act I, Scene 5.
3 Cf. Tod, ll. 50 ff.
4 Cf. Tod, ll. 1734 ff.
5 Cf. Hallwich, II, p. 476.
6 Cf. Ted, ll. 3818 ff.
THE UNITY OF ACTION OF THE DRAMA.
The main theme of the drama is Wallenstein's treason gainst the emperor. The climax of the drama is the moment when the hero, after deep inner conflict, is constrained by the force of unexpected circumstances to summon Wrangel, in order to form an alliance with the Swedes against the emperor (Tod, 1. 643). This decision to unite with the enemy is the central point about which the whole dramatic action turns. The slowly ascending action of the Piccolomini records the motive for this step, and the rapidly descending action of Wallensteins Tod is a direct and necessary consequence of it.
It is the proof of Wallenstein's treason which enables Octavio to induce the officers to desert their general. Octavio knows that even Wallenstein's rude soldiery will shrink from treason. Wallenstein has endeavored in various ways to bind his officers and soldiers to his cause. They are really devoted to him, they are awed by his powerful personality, they trust his military genius, their fortunes are closely bound up with his own, and yet Octavio is right when he claims that all the favors they received from Wallenstein and all their hopes of military advancement will not induce them to follow their general as soon as they have proofs of his treason. Before Wallenstein's compact with the Swedes, Octavio had no influence with the officers, but the horror of the word treason brings about at once a revulsion of feeling, and without serious scruples they desert their chief. No one understands better the power which legitimate authority and old custom wield over the minds of men than Wallenstein himself, hence his great caution and doubt when about to take the step 2 Instead of representing upon the scene the emperor and his court, which would have doubtless weakened the drama, the poet has tried to make us feel throughout the work the mighty force of the imperial name in face of treason. If Wallenstein had utterly disregarded the imperial commands, even if he had openly rebelled against the emperor in order to maintain himself in his position, the army might have stood faithfully by him, but as soon as he becomes a traitor, his influence over his soldiers and over Max is irreparably lost.3 Had Wallenstein not committed treason, even Buttler, with all his energy 1 Piccol., 11. 331-336. 3 Tod, 11. 768-778.
2 Tod, ll. 139 ff.