Spring Awakening

Sexuality and Authority in Wedekind's 'Spring Awakening' College

In the foreword to an early translation of the play ‘Spring Awakening’ by Frank Wedekind, his translator Francis J. Ziegler stated that Wedekind’s thesis for the play was “that it is a fatal error to bring up children, either boys or girls, in ignorance of their sexual nature.” (The Awakening of Spring. Foreword.) From the outset of this play, an audience can begin to understand exactly what inspired this belief. Wedekind wrote the play as an attack on the societal pretense, repression, and hypocrisy around which he had been raised, especially in terms of attitudes towards sexuality and morality. His work was often regarded as pornographic and, as a result, was censored. Through complex characters and extremely frank and unabashed scenes, Wedekind depicts an unmistakable link between sexuality and authority, and the corruption of youth that this link brings about.

On the dedication Wedekind gave the play to parents and teachers, Emma Goldman wrote that “parents and teachers are, in relation to the child’s needs, the most ignorant and mentally indolent class”. (Goldman 64) When discussing the role of authority in the sexual development of children, one would do well to look first at the sexuality of the authority itself, how...

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