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German Literature 18th Century

In: English and Literature

Submitted By gabdago
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Exam #2

1. Bettina von Arnim was a prominent female figure in Germany during the Romanticism Era. Von Arnim was best known for her writings that had a connection to social issues in society, involving women and oppression. Von Arnim was friends with Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for a period of time. Von Arnim, who was known for many novels and essays, wrote on topics involving social and political reform, which appealed to many groups of oppressed people, such as women and Jews. Although she had a husband and seven children, Bettina von Arnim was vocal in rejecting the exclusivity of traditional gender roles in 19th century Germany, through her literary works. Von Arnim’s most famous work is called Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, a fiction based on her relationship with Goethe. The story depicts her as a child, who sits on Goethe’s character’s lap, and how her gender affects the relationship they had. One of her other works, Gritta, was an alternative view of the typical “male saves female archetype”. In the novel, the female plays the role of the hero. In her later life, after her husband died, she began to publish more and more works, including some by her husband. Her husband’s death was a significant event in von Arnim’s life. When von Arnim became a widow, she published a large amount of works such as autobiographies and fiction based on social equality and gender equality. Von Arnim was a benefactor of the ideas of free speech and freedom of press, as the author used it immensely. Von Arnim also portrayed strong views on socioeconomic differences. Her opinions of favoring the poor made some of her works leaning towards a socialist point of view. In 1843, von Arnim published a book called The King’s Book aimed toward King Wilhelm IV, insisting he help the poor. Von Arnim was a crucial Romantic author because she bravely focused on gender and social issues. Bettina von Arnim is important to look at in retrospect at German literature in the 19th century because she was a complete and all around positive figure for women. Von Arnim not only wrote about romantic themed roles of feminine gender roles, but she was also a loving and caring mother and wife. She showed that it was possible to be a strong representation of a woman being a great motherand also have an opinion and voice in society. Before her time, the idea of women equality was unapparent, if even mentioned at all. Von Arnim was leader in the beginning opinions on gender equality.

2. Romanticism played a huge role in influencing the cultural and artistic history of Germany forever. The time period, that lasted from late 18th century, to the mid 19th century, was a time of contradiction against the earlier Classical time period in terms of the style of artistic works. Romanticism was about free form, individualistic, and creative work pertaining to the author’s own state of mind. Romanticism was somewhat of an objective to the 18th century Classic literary movement, which focused on rationalization and idealism. Romanticism was meant to find an interpretation of life through each individual artist’s own opinion. A common theme in romantic literature is death. Death was portrayed as something people need to accept and learn to become acquainted with. Death was an honor and was supposed to be treated as a crucial and understanding part of life. Romantic literature and arts developed with somewhat of an influence from the Middle Ages and Dark period style. Romanticism focused on a main idea that not everything can be explained through rationalizing and reasoning, and that, there are deeper, more subconscious ideas in many things of life. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is one of the most famous poets, writers and philosophers of the time period. His works defined what it meant to “look past reality” and into the human mind and soul. Goethe’s novel, The Faust, is a clear representation. The story is about a man who has internal struggles with grasping his wife Gretchen’s death, and his conflicts with the Devil’s opinion. The Devil and idea of death in this story is given a character to be represented by to better inform the reader about the message of the purpose and meaning to humans on Earth. In this way, The Faust represents aspects of death and individual and unique concepts of reality, also known as romanticism. One of the most famous poets and essayists was Heinrich Heine. Heine wrote prose and poetry that reflected his extreme political views. The poetry was used to create that “Romantic viewpoint” of how society could possibly function. Heine was famous for taking rational and concrete ideals and turning them into Romantic poetry that spoke gentle and carried a subconscious theme. Romanticism influenced the latter 20th century by encouraging new political ideas such as socialism and communism. These political theories may seem farfetched to some people and accurate to others. Romanticism allowed the beliefs of these individual concepts to flourish.

3 William von Humboldt’s founding of the University of Berlin was one of the most important and foundational aspects of enhancing a nation’s educational and political system. Humboldt believed in the idea that creating large centers of education for advancing a country’s power of knowledge. When there are more citizens who are educated and well rounded, the country advances. This idea refers to the concept of bildung, the German word for the cultural and self-improvement for the betterment of German society and culture. Part of William von Humboldt’s ideas in philosophy was that education is the meaning of humans’ existence. As human beings, it is our job to justify the truth of life. Education during Humboldt’s time and efforst expanded in terms of the amount of resources and determination to attend a university. Receiving a full education will enhance the wealth and overall state of a person, creating a greater population of humans as a whole. The University of Berlin is considered the “mother of modern universities”. Humboldt started the University of Berlin with the idea of “universitaas litterarum” or that teaching as well as research gives students an opportunity to reach a thorough education. The University began with many different disciplines such as literature, mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and some arts and humanities subjects, making it a well rounded place of education. Humboldt believed that becoming adequate in all disciplines would create a better, more well educated person. Many researchers would conduct studies at the University, making it a place for new ideas to stem out of. According to the schools website,, 29 Nobel Prize winners did work at University of Berlin. When the University of Berlin was founded in 1809, it also focused on Wissenchaft, which is a general form of learning curriculum, rather than working in part by one’s own morals. William von Humboldt’s efforts to create a well-rounded and largely important education system are seen around the world today. Hundreds of universities around the world, including numerous in America, exist in today’s society to develop a person, by using multiple subjects, to enhance a country’s prosperity in the long run.

4 The Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitic beliefs have roots starting in 16th century Germany. During the Middle ages and early modern time period, anti-semitic beliefs were common in society. According to The Germans by Craig, the Churches during this time period would make Jews wear some sort of identification on themselves at all times so that it made it easier to discriminate against them. Jewish rights during the Middle ages were slim, although they did stimulate the economy quite a bit, which many people did not realize. During the Reformation Era, Jews were still heavily discriminated against. Many people were jealous of Jewish shopkeepers who would make profits, and would therefore a stigma created by other religions and German citizens that Jews were unethical and had no place in society. In the early 1500s, during the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, and many other Protestant leaders were trying to convert many people to his religion. Luther saw the Jews as people who rejected the spirit of Christ and should be damned for it. In the 18th century, Jews had to face a new kind of intolerance as members of German society. Felix Mendelssohn, a German Romantic composer, was a defender of Jews in Germany. He believed that in order for Jews to live peacefully, they needed to integrate themselves further in German societies and be free from their separate spirituality of their religion. Mendelssohn was an advocate of Jews being similar to Germans in the enlightened German society. Mendelssohn’s daughter Dorothea Mendelssohn Veit, also was in support of a positive Jewish presence. She invited many prominent Jews to scholarly events to further increase education among those people. In the 19th century, the general societal population’s tolerance of the Jews was on the decline again. Jews were treated like second class citizens. The book Jewish Pretensions to German Citizenship enhanced these views by stating opinions such as Jews should not even be allowed to be citizens until they convert to Christianity from Judaism and that there should be stricter laws on how Jews are structured within society.

5 Many German writers have had a tremendous effect on the social and political aspects of Germany’s history. Arther Schopenhauer was a famous philosopher who contributed ideas to the Romantic Era of literature. Romantic themes such as more in depth meaning to life than just what is on the outside, or concrete, are included in his book, The World as Will and Representation. Friedrich Nietzsche was similar in that he was a philosopher writing on the reality of the world we live in versus the world beyond what is reality. Nietzsche thus was determined as a writer of atheism and new psychological concepts that are new to the ideas of the Era. Karl Marx would have also been see as one of the most influential writers to come from Germany. Marx, the author of The Communist Manifesto, included in his writing heavy influence from his political ideas of communism. Thomas Mann was a novelist who was influenced by the works of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Like the authors of the time before, Mann wrote novels with meaning related to the individual and the intellectual. Rosa Luxemborg also had similar beliefs to Marx in that she was a philosopher writing about socialism and Marxism. Luxemborg had a prominent role in her beliefs, co-founding a group called the Spartacus League, which eventually turned into the Communist Party of Germany. Gerhart Hauptmann was a German novelist who most was known for integrating naturalism into his works. Naturalism was the concept of using illustration techniques in writing to depict the most accurate portrayal of reality. Naturalism, used in Hauptmann’s novels such as Signalman Thiel, was a common them in Post Romantic Era of literature (late 1800s-early 1900s). Ernst Juger, a writer during the early 1900s, was most known for his novel, Storm of Steel, giving a firsthand account of his experience in World War I. Juger’s writing and political beliefs were important to the time period, giving a sense of realism to novels and stories. A few decades later, in the 1960s, a powerful leader of the German Student Movement, named Rudi Dutschke appeared. Dutschke looked up to Rosa Luxemborg for his socialist political influence. Dutschke wanted to use peaceful promotion of democracy to encourage social change. He was a part of the SDS in Germany, a large political student group, that protested the Vietnam War. Another modern political figure in Germany, Angela Merkel, displayed a prominent position in German government. Merkel became the first woman to be the Chancellor of Germany in 2005 and Christian Democratic Union in 2000. During her time throughout the past decades, Merkel has held numerous roles of political importance including Federal Minister of multiple sects of government (environment, women and youth, etc.) and negotiated treaties such as the Berlin Declaration and the Treaty of Lisbon. Merkel played an extremely large part in advancing roles of women and stood as an important part of representing gender equality.

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