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Examination of the German genre of `bourgeois tragedy', bringing out its underlying characteristics.
'Bürgerliches Trauerspiel' or bourgeois tragedy is the most popularly acclaimed and critically documented form of German drama. From the mid-eighteenth century, some of Germany's greatest dramatists turned away from classical subjects to focus instead on the intricate internecine struggles of the middle-class family. This book views bourgeois tragedy and related forms of 'family' drama as depicting the enactment of a threat to stability and domestic order, organised so that the threat is defeated and the anxieties of the predominantly middle-class audience relieved; the author argues that these threats are represented as emanating from female figures who oppose and challenge the authority and order of a father or husband. Texts examined include Klinger's Sturm und Drang, Goethe's Stella and Die natürliche Tochter, Kleist's 'über das Marionettentheater' and Hebbel's Maria Magdalene.