A hero could be considered a villain

Great spirits have arisen. On the conception of Schiller's early drama heroes


1. introduction

2. Of Heroes and Villains A description of current heroism
2.1. Individualization and pluralization of the heroic
2.2. The hero and society
2.3. From warrior to superhero. Changing ideas
2.4. The hero as a literary construct
2.4.1. The relationship between 'hero' and 'main character'
2.4.2. To differentiate between hero types
2.5. Review and systematisation 'What is a hero?'

3. About the understanding of the heroic and the conception of heroic figures in the late 18th century
3.1. The heroic sublime in Schiller's drama theory (s)
3.2. Schiller's dramatic characters as mixed characters
3.3. The brilliant hero. The conception of the heroic in Sturm und Drang.

4. Schiller's early dramatic characters. A comparative figure analysis. with a view to the heroic
4.1. The robbers. Heroic brothers in a covert duel
4.1.1. Old vs. new hero
4.1.2. Unequal brothers and their relationship to society
4.1.3. Franz Moor, a 'consistent villain'
4.1.4. Karl Moor, disappointed son - broken hero
4.1.5. Fatherly grove and fall of heroes
4.1.1. Karl, a hero of Sturm und Drang?
4.1.2. Brothers in moral judgment
4.2. The Fiesco conspiracy in Genoa
4.2.1. Three versions - three heroes
4.2.2. Freedom of an inscrutable hero
4.2.3. Striving for power, (self) deification and loss of freedom
4.3. Cabal and Love. Drama without a hero?
4.3.1. Fathers, children, and different views with the same goal
4.3.2. Doom of an artificial love
4.3.3. Luise Millerin. Between resistance and silent tolerance
4.3.4. Ferdinand von Wagner, 'homeless' president's son
4.3.5. Improper 'hero' and hidden 'heroine'

5. Summary

1 Introduction

'Dramenhelden' still echoes from the title of the present work and the intellectual work of many literary scholars begins. The basis of this formulation is rightly asked, as well as which concept of hero is intended and how one can seriously understand Karl Moor, Fiesco or Ferdinand as heroes. This question is easier to ask than to answer, because at first glance these figures, which this thesis is supposed to be about in the foreground, do not appear to be heroes according to a general understanding of our present, and not necessarily if you look back at their time Creation directs. Perhaps only the definition of Sulzer applies here, who in 1771 described the hero as the "main character of the heroic poem"[1] referred to, whereby it finally came to that shift, the "main character in the drama"[2] to call? From today's notions of heroes, it initially seems doubtful that Schiller conceived them as the 'heroes' of his youthful dramas. If you look at his own theory of drama (which will be presented in the course of the work), the one tragic hero[3] describe, one quickly realizes that the aforementioned characters hardly correspond to the definition of this hero type. Nevertheless, they all have in common that they appear heroic in a certain way and, to a certain extent, have the potential to become real heroes, even according to today's understanding. But where does this potential lie and what are the characteristics of the heroic?

The aim of this work is to show whether and how Schiller's drama 'heroes' can be understood as heroes today, as well as in the 18th century. In any case, there seem to be some voices that suggest this understanding:

"The heroes of his youthful dramas are monsters of virtue or vice, of a tremendous uniqueness and impressiveness."[4], says Frey in 1966. A general look at her work shows that in this sentence she by no means only follows Sulzer's definition. Furthermore, Frey's concept of hero is not designed in such a way that a hero embodies consistently positive qualities. According to their understanding, there are 'heroes' who are anything but 'figures of light', whose 'vices' are no less than the moral greatness of the virtuous hero.

The concept of the hero itself does not seem to be unproblematic in several respects and is ambiguous. While Sulzer offers a kind of functional hero term, Frey has a moral component.

The title continues to speak of “great spirits”. In this formulation, the concept of the genius aesthetic of Sturm und Drang can be heard and the explanations of this work should also shed light on how the characters are designed as 'ingenious' representatives of the literary movement within the Enlightenment. But what is its size and how can this size be understood as a form of the heroic? Are they after all arrogant and do they all ultimately fail because of their hubris? The failure and its causes should be given just as much attention as the previous questions.

All three heroes of the drama are also accompanied by female characters, who play no small, albeit often neglected, role in the overall conception of the drama. In part, they contain significant dramaturgical elements of the respective works. At least Luise Millerin should be dealt with in the context of this work, because she too is a central figure. Perhaps, in the end, this female figure is entirely more heroic than her companion ...

It's sure to have been noticed Don Karlos so far not mentioned. Although this work can still be counted as one of Schiller's early works, it was written in a time of upheaval in literary history and represents a transitional work from Sturm und Drang to the German classical period. Since this work in its special position, taking into account its classical elements, requires further elaboration which cannot be carried out due to the resulting overall scope of this work, the decision is made to examine Schiller's first three works.

2. Of heroes and villains. A description of current heroism

Based on a rather phenomenological description of the heroic in our time, the present chapter aims to approximate the concept of the hero and to make any developments that are undoubtedly perceived in the course of the work more comprehensible. In addition, it seems essential to me to make the complexity of the term tangible in this way, because in conversations with college friends on the subject of “What is a hero?”, The answers were sometimes divergent. Furthermore, this step is intended to secure the first general determinations, valid at all times if possible, about the characteristics that characterize a hero.

However, this chapter is not intended to create a complete typology of the current concept of the hero (which is almost impossible to achieve anyway), but is intended to serve as a guide and to ensure that the concept of the hero is certain.

2.1. Individualization and pluralization of the heroic

It hardly takes much thought to imagine a hero of your choice. Some may immediately think of the (super) heroes of the Marvel and DC Comics. Superman, Spiderman, or Batman are sure to come to mind quite often. We have met heroes of the big screen since films have existed. John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis may be thought of by others in their roles. But what do Spiderman and the Terminator have in common? Has Spiderman, bitten by a spider, finally superhuman powers, the Terminator as an action hero type[5] however, is not even human. But both are considered heroes to us. Our present knows these two types as well as war heroes or the socialist 'heroes of work'. Albert Einstein is also referred to by some as a hero and represents the type of intellectual hero. Likewise, outstanding athletes are sometimes referred to as heroes. It is becoming apparent that there is an almost unmanageable range of hero types, with "the parallel individualization of the hero creating a multitude of new hero images"[6] generated. The phenomenon of 'hero' is all the more difficult to grasp because the sum of these hero images also includes a variety of metaphorizations[7] which puts current literary studies in the distress of producing as many precisely defined terms in order to be able to ensure a systematic representation of the different types of heroes. At least some of these terms will be taken up in the further course of this work.

Another realistic example shows the citizen as a hero:

If a child is thrown onto the tracks on the platform and a rescuer approaches who can bring the child onto the safe track despite the train rolling towards it and who can just get himself to safety in a niche, he will soon be celebrated as a hero, there he put his life in danger for a stranger and unselfishly achieved great things. But does the hero status acquired in this way outlast time? If you follow Max Weber, the hero always has to prove himself anew in order to maintain his status.[8] Very soon the euphoria about the deed of the child savior will be gone and the hero will become a citizen again. Did he ever see himself as anything else? Wasn't this type of hero always part of society, simply a person who did something good at the right time? This would probably mean that he was never a hero, but was merely declared one. There are indications that self-image and external view are somehow related, but not always conform. So does the individual act make a hero, or rather a fundamental inner attitude of the hero or declared hero? This question points to Ferdinand von Wagner, who will also be dealt with with regard to this question.

One thing is already quite clear: there is no such thing one Heroes, rather, there is a hero term in our present that is broadly diversified and appears to have been softened. This is also expressed, for example, in the not uncommon mixing of the terms “hero” and “idol”. The idol as an object of worship means, coming from the ancient Greek 'είδωλοv', 'shape' or 'idol'. Bernhard Iglhaut offers the German synonym 'cult figure' for it.[9] Thus the idol is not declared to be a “personal” hero without any justification, which is also based on the affinity to “hero”.

Despite all the discontinuity - because the type of 'citizen as hero' shown above is definitely a different kind of hero than Superman - is there something like an original, a phenotype, a hero?

In the following I would like to attempt to grasp at least some essential cornerstones of the heroic, whereby a final normative list of heroic attributes seems hardly possible in view of the abundance of current heroic ideas.

2.2. The hero and society

A whole range of characteristics that make a hero can be described by comparing hero and society. His deeds are unprecedented, stand out from the everyday achievements of the masses and testify to a greatness that makes the individual stand out from society. He proves himself in the face of every danger and basically returns victorious from his struggles, which does not have to mean, however, that, as Immer (2009) states, in principle inviolable[10] is, but only that he remains steadfast at all times and rebels against the evil of the world. If he were invulnerable, Achilles' heroic death, for example, could not have been inviolable up to this point seemed.

At the same time, society makes a hero a hero. In evaluating his deeds and noting their unprecedentedness, he is declared special. With this, the hero often becomes of 'loneliness'[11] exposed to his exaltation, because in his exposed position he is only an extraordinary part of his own society. It no longer occurs in everyday life, but is viewed as extraordinary.[12]

His struggle is usually directed against the current grievances of his time. Either he already knows a way to a better future, or he realizes that the needs of his present can be overcome in the restoration of the past. Thus, not only does he become an outsider due to his unprecedented nature, but also an anachronistic outsider.[13]

The relationship between hero and society is reciprocal, because although the hero assumes his role on the one hand, legitimation by society is always required on the other.[14] Among other things, it determines its status with its values ​​and morals. In this respect, the hero in turn experiences a certain approach to his surroundings, as he becomes a figure of identification through the respective social ideal. Seen in this way, what defines a hero cannot apply equally at all times and everywhere.[15] The example of Heracles always cites, who was not yet generally regarded as a hero by Homer, but only became that heroic figure of identification with the didactic poems of Hesiod, Menander and finally especially in Pindar's choral poetry, whose effect still extends into our millennium.

The other way around, a person can also skillfully stage himself as a hero if he serves the ideas of his society, as did Ronald Reagan, the fortieth President of the United States, for example. In public he wore a cowboy hat and let the media circulate pictures of himself on his ranch, showing him riding a horse or chopping wood. Reagan adopted attributes here that the American people knew from John Wayne, a western hero who had become popular at the time.

In the point of the ideal, all hero types presented so far differ from the villain who contradicts exactly this idea. This does not mean that the villain cannot be a figure of identification, because he ultimately represents the bad of a society and, as a mirror of this, can also lead to identification. Patricia Highsmiths The talented Mr. Ripley is a good example of this.[16] After all, we do recognize our own abysses in the villain. The villain too has unprecedented qualities that set him apart from society. The magnitude of his deeds comes close to that of the radiant hero, which raises him to the status of an equal adversary.

It suggests that the villain can also be a kind of 'hero'. However, there is an important difference between the two: The positive hero alone is the model of a society (or at least for a large part of the same), which can educate the individual towards desirable changes and bring about structural changes in a society.[17] Which personalities are viewed as heroes is therefore also determined by the will of a community to educate.[18]

One question in the last subsection was whether an individual act already makes a hero, or whether a certain inner attitude must be ascertainable that identifies him as a hero.

It can be considered relatively certain that the nature of the deed and its social significance determine the degree of the heroic. Overall, the rescuer on the track will probably receive less fame than a hero who has brought about a positive change in society as a whole. The scope of his action (s), even if it is only a single act, determines the popularity of the hero, and this ultimately determines whether the memory will survive through the ages in literature, pictures, sculptures, songs or films.

In the existence of this memory, each future generation is sure to ask less about the attitude of a hero once he has become an icon. In this way, at least not without further ado, a heroic status like that of Heracles is denied. The inner attitude may have had even more weight at the time of the elevation of the hero, but in the end it is rather a static memento that can withstand a changing heroic conception. In addition, we ask less about who Heracles was and how he thought than about what he did. One danger of solidified hero images is that they are no longer subjected to a critical re-examination and continue to exist, although they may have been outdated. A hero's memory mixes with our imaginations, generating a new image. For us, the icon of Heracles is very likely different from what it was about two millennia ago. Thus, heroes are also an artificial, adapted construction of assumed values ​​and attitudes.[19] Some people who used to be considered a hero may have lost their status as a result. One should think here, for example, of GDR functionaries who were treated as 'heroes' in the context of their time and in certain circles.

2.3.From warrior to superhero. Changing ideas

Some of the properties mentioned so far are by no means new. As early as 1735, Zedler wrote about the hero in his Universal Lexicon:

"[He] is one who is gifted by nature, with a handsome figure and exceptional stature, who gains fame through brave deeds, and who rises above the common class of those [sic] people."[20]

However, this description also shows that the concept of the hero has changed, because almost every feature is viewed somewhat differently than in the illustration above. So far it has not been mentioned that a hero should be handsome or that his unprecedented character is determined less by his abilities and deeds than by his physical strength. According to Zedler, his deeds do not have to be unprecedented, just brave. Brave deeds lead to fame. The hero is thus also confirmed as such in the fact that he is respected and ultimately also adored and admired. A brave, physical act still has priority over a spiritual one that is not even mentioned. In today's notion of a hero, however, if one thinks again of the above-mentioned Einstein, the intellect also seems to distinguish a hero. Overall, behind Zedler's definition there seems to be a more original, for us more archaic image of a hero, with whom the heroic character of the Niebelungen figures Siegfried or Hagen, for example, can still be grasped quite well, which, as far as I dare to anticipate the third chapter, will come later 18th century no longer finds undivided approval.

A look back at the time before this definition also makes it clear that the concept of hero was never the same. Ancient heroes were not infrequently demigods, but at least fundamentally powerful personalities who (like Hector, for example) were consistently virtuous. However, this statement should not obscure the fact that some of these ancient heroes were not devoid of 'hubris'. A famous example of this is offered by Achilles, who finally dared too much due to his lust for battle and went under. Mostly the 'hero' was[21] only declared to be such after his death.[22]

Over the millennia, a line of development emerged in which the hero's intellect gained more and more weight. If Odysseus was already known to be cunning, the intellect later developed into a constitutive characteristic of a hero. With Spinoza the hero is presented as 'wise' and with Lichtenberg he even becomes a 'great genius'[23]. In the further development in the 19th century Carlyle and Emerson particularly emphasize the 'heroes of the spirit', and in the 20th century Scheler names the 'spiritual will' as a heroic characteristic.[24]

However, the statement about this development alone is not enough to describe the heroes of our present day. In a more precise comparison of modern[25] Heroes and those who were conceived by Schiller, some useful insights are to be expected, since, especially in the description of modern heroes, certain aspects of the heroic emerge that would otherwise have been difficult to see. For this reason, a significant group of modern heroes should first be recorded in this chapter, which I would like to refer to again later. As has already been said, a community's will to educate determines who is considered a 'hero'. Part of the current willingness to educate is shown in the constitution of comic heroes. This group is introduced selectively in the following excursus, because a significant part of modern hero figures can be described in general[26]:

1. Metaization: Particularly in the cinematic representations of the 21st century, a development can be recorded according to which almost every hero figure is referred to as a 'hero' by other figures in its internal literary representation, or even names himself as such. In the movie Green Lantern (2011), various characteristics of heroes are thematized on a (intra-literary) meta level. So the best friend lets the main character understand that he is happy that she is now a hero (through the acquisition of a 'magic' ring) and that he should meet Laury, a figure close to him - after all, he would get it Hero the woman.
2. Responsibility: A figure presented in the aforementioned film as a “colleague” of the hero points out to the “young hero” the responsibility that he now bears and that would result from his strength. 'Social responsibility out of strength' has become a common motif in portraying heroes.
3. Election: In many cinematic representations it is discussed that the hero does not choose his role. Rather, it arises from the heroic qualities that are already inherent in his character and the special strength that he has acquired. The Green Lantern is characterized by extraordinary courage even before it receives its superpowers, or Spiderman by its kind nature and compassion. His social responsibility is imposed on the hero in his role, whereby he fundamentally accepts it.
4. Special power: The exceptional component, either in the form of 'super power', or in the acquisition of outstanding abilities (as in the case of Zorros or Batman) is often only given to the hero in the course of the action. At this point there are still ancient heroes, according to which the heroes, then as now, are destined to fight. In doing so, however, there has been a shift in the importance of the struggle. The motive of the hero standing up for his environment, indeed showing the fight as a downright social duty of the hero, is in its scope a novelty of our time.
5. Human weakness: Furthermore, modern heroes are often shown in their weakness, which has to be overcome. The Green Lantern overcomes his fear, Spiderman his anger and his feelings of revenge and finally acts righteously and Superman temporarily rejects the responsibility placed on him. Modern heroes are drawn as whole people who have to survive not only in the fight against evil, but also in the fight against themselves. The hero's tendency to 'become human' can be traced back to the 18th century.
6. Anonymity: comic book heroes often wear a mask that is supposed to conceal their identity. The hero's identity should remain hidden for several reasons: First and foremost, it serves the hero's self-protection, who remains viable in his company through the mask. For those heroes who violate the existing laws in their actions, e.g. in the case of Zorro or Batman, this is particularly true. Furthermore, those who are close to the hero should also be protected. And finally, the mask helps the hero to become a symbol. Due to his anonymity, the hero can pass his mask on to a 'trained' successor who will continue the work of the original hero.

A general insight (which is valid even without a mask) can still be gained from this last point, namely that the hero is a 'symbol'. Accordingly, the hero stands for a certain cause (he always fights For something), an attitude, a hope etc. and represents this in his person.

Due to its extensive media coverage, the type of comic book hero shown above has become a defining factor in current ideas of heroes, which should not be completely neglected when considering Schiller's heroes of the drama. Finally, the reasons why Goethe's Werther or Schiller's Karl Moor no longer immediately appear to us as heroes and why we sometimes even reject them as such become clear here.

2.4. The hero as a literary construct

2.4.1. The relationship between 'hero' and 'main character'

A small mental leap back to the introduction of the work is now done, because there already emerged the statement that with 'hero' the 'main character' of a literary work can be meant. Basically, it can be said in shortened form: If 'hero' and 'main character' are equated, the term 'dramatic hero' also easily carries Schiller's early dramatic characters into hero status, because after all they are main characters. But if you consider that the main characters of an action often bundle a wide variety of properties and are not always figures of identification, the equation of 'hero' and 'main character' is not without judgment. The value judgment seems to be anchored in the term 'hero', which in turn means that 'hero' and 'main character' are by no means always identical. According to this, the main character of a literary work has to have heroic traits, at least to some extent, since otherwise any justification would be lost to describe a character as a 'hero of the drama'. A very new literary definition by Platz-Waury is a worthwhile contribution to this:

HERO: Central figure of an epic or dramatic plot with mostly representative function, which is the focus of reader / viewer interest. Although the 'heroic' connotations (↑ heroic poetry, heroic-gallant novel) have been largely hollowed out in the course of modern literary development, the fictional 'hero' usually continues to attract sympathies through positive feature sentences (reception); So it is still not a completely value-neutral category. [...][27]

This shows, on the one hand, the amalgamation shown above through the value judgment that is already contained in the term 'hero'; on the other hand, 'hero' is used in a functional sense[28], because right at the beginning it is said that he is a “central figure”. In this position as the central figure, he almost inevitably has to be a main character, yes even the Main character to be identified. This in turn makes it clear that a value judgment is also hidden behind this term.[29]

It now seems necessary to take a closer look at the relationship between 'hero' and 'main character', as they are occasionally equated. According to what has been said so far, it seems likely that being a hero leads to a character being placed at the center of a literary text. To put a hero in the position of a marginal figure hardly seems possible. But if the hero is the central figure, he carries the action forward to a particular degree. In this role we not only perceive him in a particularly attentive way, but also judge him more precisely than other characters. This makes him a representative representative of, among other things, certain moral or social ideas.[30] In this way, an aesthetic connection with the aesthetic effect and reception becomes visible. Firstly, there is the possibility that the author of a work has the special intensity of impact[31], which results from the outstanding position of his hero, can make usable. The hero is also deliberately staged according to a certain intended effect. So the literary hero is staged.

Secondly, in this context it can be seen that the central position of the hero in particular strengthens the recipient's autonomy to make his own judgment, because he looks at the particular figure with particular attention. He now makes his judgment in two respects, as is shown by the design of the literary hero, namely, he makes a moral and an aesthetic judgment. For the first should a hero acting morally in the basic notion of the recipient. Second, the hero has a certain amount of free will in his portrayal, which empowers him to act morally. Therefore, in the case of literary (or, as Platz-Waury says, 'fictional') heroes, the moral judgment grows partly only from the aesthetic judgment.

2.4.2. To differentiate between hero types

Due to the interrelationship between literary hero and recipient just explained, there are gradations in the consideration of various 'main characters', which can be classified differently according to the degree of sympathy. This classification is based on a subdivision into 'concentration level' and 'direction of action': Think of Büchners Leonce and Lena, the dream-sunken prince, who is shown as an idiot, appears as the counter-image of a hero. The figure, although by no means amoral, has no heroic traits, has no pronounced willingness to act and embodies boredom. So Leonce, with an extremely low degree of 'action', can definitely be an 'antihero'[32] name, whereby the term 'antihero' should be thought of as a particular accentuation of a 'passive hero'. Its position within the comedy is nevertheless central.

On the other hand, the figures Karl or Franz Moor, who by no means correspond to the aforementioned type, show themselves to be full of energy, with a high degree of action. For example, they can be used to distinguish between positive and negative heroes[33], i.e. discuss the 'direction of action', with the former embodying the ideal image of a hero, the latter in turn being the counterpart. With 'direction of action' the ethical direction of character actions is meant. At this point, reference should be made again to Frey's apt statement, which says that Schiller's heroes are powerful, powerful "monsters of virtue or vice"[34] are. As mentioned at the beginning, the pair of terms has a moral component that ultimately leads to Schiller's conception of the 'sublime criminal'[35] as a negative hero. The “degree of sympathy”, which is a measure of how strongly we identify with or reject a hero, depends on the “degree of action” and “direction”. If the hero's ideas and actions coincide with the ideal of the recipient, the hero becomes a figure of identification. However, this identification does not have to take place at every level. In the case of the Simplicissimus Although the reader can identify with its morality, it is more difficult to identify with its spiritual simplicity, which leads to corresponding actions.

Northrop Frye continues to classify literary heroes according to 'agency'[36] and describes here the division of heroes according to the extent to which, due to their nature, they can achieve different levels of agency or competence. It divides the ability to act in descending order into five levels:

God-like or god-like (e.g. Prometheus or Heracles),

other actors outstanding in degree (whereby the action and the effect of the wonderful are often linked, as is the case in fairy tales),

'Highly mimetic' heroes (Actions are only possible for them within the framework of natural conditions, but are still exceptional),

'Low-mimetic' heroeswho are on an equal footing with the rest of the figure ensemble and do not rise above it,

and finally the (albeit morally sound) 'Mentally inferior' heroeshow to get it, for example, in the form of the (above) morally strong, but intellectually weak Simplicissimus finds.

Of course, different types of heroes can be described with Frye's model, but Immer rightly criticizes the fact that it cannot describe heroes in a timeless manner, but rather that typical characteristics of certain types of heroes flow together in the individual stages. Ancient heroes are mostly found on the level of 'god-like heroes', modern heroes mostly as ironic heroes on the latter. Thus, although Frye's model shows the fundamental change (there are always exceptions), in which a progressive loss of the ability to act of literary heroes is shown, is however only partially applicable for their typological categorization.[37]

2.5. Review and systematisation 'What is a hero?'

According to all previous portrayals, heroes are not born as such, but at most have a heroic disposition. In reciprocal relationship to society, they are first made into heroes when their extraordinary abilities are established. Jacob Friedrich Abel, Schiller's philosophy teacher, states: "Just as little education alone makes the great man, so little does nature alone make him."[38] Not just the facility, but the addition of a corresponding training of his skills leaves a man[39] so first become a hero.

In connection with the observation that a hero is determined by society, I used a few examples at the beginning to show that there is a multitude of hero images in our present, not least because of a softened concept of the hero. Despite their differences, these can be determined typologically. A volume devoted to this topic in detail (from superheroes with masks to war heroes or screen heroes are systematically presented in various contributions to modern types of heroes) was published in 2013 by Nikolas Immer and Mareen van Marwyck.[40]

For the purpose of this thesis, it should be sufficient to state that there is a broad spectrum of hero types, whereby the individual types in turn show themselves with individual features and are unmistakable in them.

Nevertheless, a general set of characteristics can be determined for all differences and phenotypic properties can be recorded. Whatever type one thinks of (all of the characteristics noted below apply equally to modern heroes as to their ancient ancestors), they all have the following in common[41]:

1. They are characterized by their unprecedented quality, so they stand out from the general public as the 'special' and accordingly have both rare and great skills.
2. Heroes are determined in a mutual relationship with society. On the one hand, they are elevated to heroes by society (external determination) and turn into models or role models, whereby in the case of the negative hero one can speak of a negative, or colloquially 'bad' role model, on the other hand, the hero determines his role also yourself (self-determination). According to these two types of determination, there can be differences in self-perception and perception of others.
3. Heroes embody the ideal of a society and are either ahead of their time or behind. Kaiser speaks of the hero's 'retrospective' and 'prospective outmodedness'[42].
4. (Literary) heroes are artificial constructs that are socially determined on the one hand, and aesthetic on the other. They are social constructs because they are realized as the ideal of the members of a society. As aesthetic figures, they are constructed because the concept of the hero itself conceals 'pre-staged' or 'pre-constructed' ideas of a hero. These in turn are brought up to the heroic individual figure as a projection surface and must in turn be represented by the author in a certain way (as a back projection) so that the recipient can identify the hero as such.

What this description model does not capture (in order to be able to remain generally valid) is the change to which the concept of hero has been subject in the course of the centuries. In the direction of our time, away from mainly physical qualities and deeds, there is an increasing "spiritualization" of the hero. The hero's intellectuality is becoming increasingly important. Today, Martin Luther King or Einstein can be described as heroes where this would have been unthinkable in antiquity.

3. On the understanding of the heroic and the conception of heroic figures in the late 18th century

Up to this point the concept of the hero has been outlined in principle, but it was already suggested that the concept of a hero has changed to this day. An essential question that has to be asked is about the perception of heroes in the 18th century. The present contribution by no means wants to present the entire, rather broad discourse that shows all the lines of development of the concept of hero, but rather to refer to Schiller's approaches that are significant for the topic and to explain which influences have led him to his theoretical drama conceptions. So what is Schiller's concept of the hero, how did he grow and how can the main characters in his youthful dramas be described as heroes afterwards?

On the one hand, and this is well known, the philosopher Schiller is keen to gain a deep perspective[43] into the inner life of his characters, whereby the question of the attitude of his characters is given a special status and the heroic is to be sought anthropologically or psychologically in the depths of the characters.

On the other hand, Schiller was already confronted with the concept of the 'sublime' through classicist approaches (e.g. through French classicism or J.J. Winckelmann) and also dealt poetologically with the concept of hero. The consequence of this is that, above all, the ideas of his early drama-theoretical treatises (such as About the reason for enjoying tragic objects) must also be taken into account in their effect on the representation of the heroic in words and deeds of his characters. Finally, his theoretical writings suggest ideas of how the heroic should be laid out in characters and how they consequently act.

It remains to be checked whether he has implemented his own approach in practice. Anyone who has carefully followed the last sentences will have found that Schiller's drama-theoretical treatises should be used to fathom the design of his characters. How can this be achieved, however, when some of them are younger than his tragedies themselves? Even in the first impression, which one gains from a rough overview of his theoretical writings and plays, the assumption is not absurd that both perspectively depend on one another: deductive (ideas of a general nature that Schiller already applied to his dramas without a developed theoretical concept of drama) and inductive (ideas of a special nature that Schiller later generalized from his dramas in his theoretical writings).

The two aforementioned aspects of the heroic are found in the verse "And human acts, the hero feels human"[44] low. This comes from Schiller's poem To Goethe and at the same time refers to a process of the 18th century in which an increasing humanization of the hero took place.[45] In addition to all ideal ways of acting, a hero at Schiller should also prove to be a person[46], even with transgressions that tarnish his virtues. Schiller's figures may have the highest ideals and thus sometimes seem strange to us, but the idealists themselves are not ideal, which brings them back into relative proximity to us recipients. It is precisely because of their humanity that Schiller's characters come closer to us again. The desired pathetic sympathy, which is supposed to have an effect on the upbringing of the recipient, is ultimately more likely to come about through human-drawn figures. Later I will go into more detail about the pathetic in a few sentences. The previously mentioned exclusion from society applies to the heroes at the end of the 18th century only gradually. But is that not why they are heroes?

3.1. The heroic sublime in Schiller's drama theory (s)

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the double aesthetic of the beautiful and the sublime emerged. The task of comedy was to depict the beautiful, while tragedy was supposed to show the sublime. The theory of tragedy therefore had to deal with the question of which forms of representation are necessary in order to bring out the sublime.[47] Schiller also posed this question in his theory of drama and discussed various possibilities of representation that went beyond the traditional approaches.


[1] Sulzer, Johann Georg: general theory of the fine arts in individual articles, dealt with in alphabetical order of the artificial words, 2nd vol., Leipzig 1771/1774, p. 525. (Art. "Held".)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Friedrich Schiller: All works in five volumes. ed. by Gerhard Fricke and Herbert G. Göpfert. Munich 1980. Vol. 5 Theoretical Writings: About the reason for the pleasure of tragic objects. P. 368.

(In the following, the writings of the 1st and 5th volumes after this edition are quoted with: 'Schiller: [Text]. SW, Vol. [], S. [].'. Exceptions are quotations and references from Schiller's dramas (Vol. 1). These are documented in the running text, stating the elevator / scene and side.)

[4] Gisa Frey: The young Schiller as a psychologist. Zurich 1966, p. 83. (In the following: Frey: The young Schiller as a psychologist.)

[5] The 'action hero' type, who was particularly popular in the seventies and eighties of the last century, emerged not least from the American identity crisis that resulted from the circumstances of the Cold War. The Allied Western Powers struggled to assert themselves against the spreading 'Red Power'. Accordingly, a model of an unyielding, strong hero with patriotic features, such as the one in the film series, developed Rambo was implemented.

[6] Nikolas Immer: The staged hero. Schiller's drama-poetic anthropology. Heidelberg 2008, p. 4. (In the following: Always: The staged hero.)

[7] Christian Gerth: The phenomenon of inettitudine in the Italian narrative literature of the early 20th century. Göttingen 2008, p. 43.

[8] Cf. Max Weber: The three pure types of legitimate rule. In other words: sociology. Universal historical analysis. Politics. Edited and explained by Johannes Winckelmann. 5th edition Stuttgart 1973, p. 163.

[9] Bernhard Iglhaut: German synonyms. Dictionary of synonyms with synonymous and synonymous words and phrases. Munich 2008.

[10] Always: the staged hero. P. 5.

[11] Christian Gerth: The phenomenon of inettitudine in the Italian narrative literature of the early 20th century. (Dissertation) Göttingen 2008, p. 43.

[12] See Always: The staged hero. P. 7.

[13] Cf. Gerhard R. Kaiser (ed.): The untimely hero in world literature. Heidelberg 1998, p. 12. (In the following: Kaiser: The untimely hero.)

[14] Always: the staged hero. P. 7.

[15] Ibid p. 11.

[16] Andrew Wilson offers reading that is very informative, but not scientifically useful : Nice shade. The life of Patricia Highsmith. Berlin 2003. In it, Highsmith describes the fascination with the amorality of her hero: The criminal offender Ripley is particularly sympathetic in his offenses.

[17] Cf. ibid. P. 10. (This does not mean that the villain cannot be used for education, but this is not done as a role model. I will explain the effect of the sublime villain in more detail later).

[18] See ibid. P. 11.

[19] Always speaks of an ability to assimilate and function, which depends on the dynamics of exchangeable attributions. Always: the staged hero. P. 12.

[20] Zedler, Johann Heinrich: Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts. 64 vol., Halle / Leipzig 1732-1754, 1214f.

[21] Regarding the term “Heros” see Gero von Wilpert: Sachverzeichnis der Literatur. 8th edition, Stuttgart 2001, pp. 332f.

[22] See Always: The staged hero. P. 60.

[23] Quote from Immer: The staged hero. P. 60.

[24] See ibid.

[25] The term 'modern', here and below, refers to the heroes of the 20th and 21st centuries.

[26] It is less advisable to look at modern heroes of novels, as there are too many different types of heroes that are much more difficult to summarize in typological groups. In addition, our present is characterized by a shift in the media that is moving away from reading literature and towards cinema. This in turn has been bringing the heroes of Marvel and DC to the screen for more than two decades, which is why this group (among others) can actually be viewed as representative.

[27] Elke Platz-Waury: Figure constellation. In: Weimar, Klaus (Hrsg.): Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft. Volume I, A-G. Berlin, New York 1997, p. 591. (Franz Kröber i.Ü., through whose contribution I became aware of this quote, summarized it in a very modern artistic form, which is worth looking at on the website: http : //prezi.com/espmmerpozow/copy-of-untitled-prezi/).

[28] See Always: The staged hero. P. 52.

[29] See Dieter Burdorf et al. (Ed): Metzler Lexicon Literature. 3rd edition, Stuttgart / Weimar 2007, p. 307f.

[30] See Always: The staged hero. P. 53.

[31] See ibid.

[32] Regarding the concept of the 'antihero' see Gero von Wilpert: Subject Dictionary of Literature. 8th edition, Stuttgart 2001, pp. 35f.

[33] See Always: The Staged Hero p. 54.

[34] Frey: The young Schiller as a psychologist. P. 83.

[35] à chap. 3.1.

[36] Cf. Northrop Frye: Analysis of literary criticism, trans. By Edgar Lohner and Henning Clewing. Stuttgart 1964 ,. P. 37f.

[37] Always: the staged hero. P.56.

[38] Jacob Friedrich Abel: Speech about the origin and characteristics of great minds, with an afterword, ed. by Walter Müller-Seidel. Marbach a.N. 1955, p. 188.

[39] Abel speaks of 'man', but it should be noted at this point that female heroes are always included. The heroic attributes presented in this work refer equally to heroines and heroes. The work does not make it its business to highlight gender-specific differences.

[40] Nikolas Immer and Mareen van Marwyck (eds.): Aesthetic heroism. Conceptual and figurative paradigms of the hero. Bielefeld 2013.

[41] The presentation is similar in Immer, who offers operational criteria to capture the “basic disposition of the hero”. See Always: The staged hero. P. 63f.

[42] See Kaiser: The untimely hero. P. 12.

[43] See Always: The staged hero. P. 14.

[44] Schiller: To Goethe (Poem). SW, Vol. 1, p. 212.

[45] See Always: The staged hero. P. 17.

[46] Please refer to the following sub-items which confirm this assumption.

[47] Cf. Paul Barone: Schiller and the tradition of the sublime. Berlin 2004, p. 164. (In the following: Barone: Schiller and the tradition of the sublime.)

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