Exhausting work the struggle for women's emancipation and autonomy in the literature of the Weimar Republic /

by Smith, Allison.

Abstract (Summary)
Ted Rippey, Advisor This thesis is an analysis of portrayals of women’s emancipation and autonomy in the literature of the Weimar Republic. I begin by describing the political, social, and economic changes taking place in Germany during the early years of Weimar. Germany’s first democracy Affected every aspect of life, particularly for women, who were granted such rights as the right to vote and equal pay for equal work. These rapid advancements combined with a strong economy and an increasing interest in popular culture, such as movies and sports, made possible the media creation of the New Woman. I discuss first what made this woman “new” and then the reasons why she was never a reality for most German women. I then turn my attention to one of Weimar’s most famous playwrights, Ernst Toller. I analyze two of his major works—the Expressionist drama Masse Mensch and his later drama Hoppla, wir leben!—in terms of their portrayal of gender, both of traditional masculinity and femininity and of newer attitudes brought out in the period of the Neue Sachlichkeit. I also discuss the transition from Expressionism to the Neue Sachlichkeit in a more general sense. Next I look at another successful writer of the period, Irmgard Keun. Keun seized on the image of the New Woman and used it as the backdrop for her first two novels, Gilgi—eine von uns and Das kunstseidene Mädchen. While very different characters, Gilgi and Doris (from Das kunstseidene Mädchen) both embody to some extent the idea of the New Woman. Keun shows us, however, that this new image of women as emancipated and independent was not necessarily an authentic one. I conclude with a discussion of the possibilities and realities of women’s emancipation and autonomy, both in these works and in general. iii “To continue her wish for independence requires an effort in which she takes pride, but which exhausts her.” -- Simone de Beauvoir iv
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:keun irmgard toller ernst feminism in literature german


Date of Publication:

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