Act 1 Edit A wild rocky place The brigands assemble at dawn, but some of them complain to Falsacappa that they cannot live properly on the rewards of their work. He promises an imminent and profitable venture. The marriage of the Princess of Grenade with the Duc de Mantoue has been announced, and the band will be there. His daughter Fiorella has fallen for the young farmer Fragoletto, whose farm the gang recently raided, and she is beginning to have doubts about their calling.
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Is it the earliest German book that I have ever read? The huge success of the play in Germany in its own time and subsequently was no doubt due to the ferocity with which it dramatized the conflict between the two value systems available to the middle class in its struggle against princely rule — self-interested materialism or university-educated idealism — while it left prudently unassailed the structure of power itself.
Here is what I think. Their father loves Karl. Everyone does. Karl is also engaged to a beautiful woman called Amalia. Franz resents this. He resents everything that Karl has, but which he desires. He wants to win the hand of Amalia. So, he plots against Karl. Karl himself seems to aid that venture. While he is away from home, he gets into debt and runs away from the law.
Franz uses that and convinces his father to disinherit Karl. Karl has plans of coming back home and hopes that his father will forgive him for his indiscretions. But when he receives the letter from his brother Franz stating that his father has disinherited him, he is hurt and angry. And before he knows what he is doing, he joins with his companions and starts a band of robbers and becomes a fugitive who is hunted by the law. Franz meanwhile continues with his nefarious plots — he wants his father, the elderly Count, to die, so that he can take over the estates, but the Count, eventhough feeble, has a sound constitution.
Using psychological threats and false news that his son Karl has died in a battle, Franz upsets the Count immeasurably that the Count dies in a shock. The household staff serves him loyally. However, his plans to win Amalia come to naught. Meanwhile, Karl, as the head of his band of robbers, has adventures that robbers have. He saves one of his band members from near certain death and while saving him, burns down the whole town.
Karl, though he is a robber, is noble. He is a robber — he kills, he burns — but he is also kind. Karl is wild with anger. What happens next? Does Karl exact revenge?
What happens to Franz? Does he reach the end that is reserved for all villains? Do Karl and Amalia get married? What happens to the band of robbers? The answers to these questions form the rest of the story. The first thing I liked was the way the characters of Karl and Franz were portrayed.
Karl, though he is the noble hero, is also a robber. Karl robs people, kills them, burns houses and towns. So, we see two sides of Karl — the noble kind side and the ruthless robber side. Karl is not a traditional, hero, but a complex character. Franz, the villain, is quite complex too. He is an atheist and a materialist. They were insightful and profound.
He gave thee life, thou art his flesh and blood — and therefore he must be sacred to thee! Again a most inconsequential deduction! I should like to know why he begot me; certainly not out of love for me — for I must first have existed. Or did he wish for me at the moment? Did he know what I should be? If so I would not advise him to acknowledge it or I should pay him off for his feat. Am I to be thankful to him that I am a man?
As little as I should have had a right to blame him if he had made me a woman. Can I acknowledge an affection which is not based on any personal regard? Could personal regard be present before the existence of its object? In what, then consists the sacredness of paternity?
As though this were aught else than an animal process to appease animal desires. Or does it lie, perhaps, in the result of this act, which is nothing more after all than one of iron necessity, and which men would gladly dispense with, were it not at the cost of flesh and blood? Do I then owe him thanks for his affection? Why, what is it but a piece of vanity, the besetting sin of the artist who admires his own works, however hideous they may be?
Look you, this is the whole juggle wrapped up in a mystic veil to work on our fears. And, shall I, too be fooled like an infant? Did I solicit thee from darkness to promote me? The next passage is probably spoiler-ish, and so if you are planning to read the play, please be sufficiently forewarned.
One more thing I liked about the story was the internal conflict that Karl undergoes towards the end of the story, when he has to choose between his band of robbers who have sworn loyalty to him and his sweetheart Amalia. I have seen this scene in countless movies, but I think Schiller probably was the first to write this scene.
So three cheers to him. There were two surprises at the end of the story. One of them was unexpected but in a nice way. The second one was also unexpected but it was not-so-nice and I felt that it was not required.
It just had shock value and I was upset with Schiller for doing that. The ending of the story is interesting — not the regular good-guys-win-and-the-bad-guys-die kind of ending, but one which is more complex than that. One word on the translation. What were you thinking, my dear Mr. I am happy that I have finally been able to read one of the great landmark plays of German literature. By that born dramatist of penetrating clarity, Friedrich Schiller : I would like to read some of his poems and his essays on aesthetics some day.
I will leave you with one of my favourite passages from the play. This one is spoken by Karl to Schwarz, one of his robber companions. Or is this the aim and limit of his destiny? It is a drama, brother, enough to bring tears into your eyes, while it shakes your side with laughter. What do you think about it?
Act 1[ edit ] A wild rocky place The brigands assemble at dawn, but some of them complain to Falsacappa that they cannot live properly on the rewards of their work. He promises an imminent and profitable venture. The marriage of the Princess of Grenade with the Duc de Mantoue has been announced, and the band will be there. His daughter Fiorella has fallen for the young farmer Fragoletto, whose farm the gang recently raided, and she is beginning to have doubts about their calling. Falsacappa agrees on condition that Fragoletto prove himself. He — fascinated by her — has lost his way.