Listed by Buchner in the list of characters as "a military barber," Woyzeck is the play's title character and protagonist. He is of low economic status and has a nearly two-year-old illegitimate child by Marie, his common-law wife. He lives in the military barracks with his friend and confidant, Andres, and shaves his Officer daily. He is also the subject of the Doctor's experiment, subsisting on a diet of only peas so that the effects on his body and mind may be studied. Woyzeck loves Marie and his child, but Marie's infidelity is the catalyst for his descent into madness and murder. He is an archetype of human suffering.
Woyzeck's common-law wife, with whom he has a nearly two-year-old illegitimate child. She is fond of Woyzeck, but cannot resist the stalwart and important Drum-Major, who seduces her and with whom she has an affair. Marie is usually pictured holding her child, except when she is committing adultery with the Drum-Major. Woyzeck stabs Marie to death as retribution for her infidelity.
A fellow soldier, friend and confidant to Woyzeck. Andres witnesses Woyzeck's maniacal outbursts and knows that he hears voices, but becomes numb to these facts and recommends that Woyzeck seek medical help. He is a foil for Woyzeck, being of the same economic status and rank in the military, but mentally sound.
The illegitimate child of Marie and Woyzeck, who is nearly two years old. He does not speak, and is usually pictured on Marie's lap or in the care of Karl, the Idiot. At the play's end, he refuses to let his father touch him, screaming and pushing him away.
Marie's neighbor, with whom she admires the Drum-Major as his battalion passes by their building. Marie gets angry at Margreth and calls her "Bitch" when the latter suggests that she, a taken woman, is flirting with the Drum-Major.
The stalwart and cocky leader of the military drum corps. He is of the middle class and ranks above Woyzeck. When he sees Marie he is instantly attracted to her with an animalistic passion. Not only does he find her ravishingly attractive, but sees her appeal as a sturdy, lower-class woman to breed him thousands of little drum-majors. The Drum-Major and Marie have an affair. He beats up Woyzeck when the latter acts insubordinately towards him at the inn.
A military officer and friend of the Drum-Major's who is with the latter when he first spots Marie at the fair and helps him snare her. The Sergeant lends his watch to the Showman to get Marie's attention and then helps her into the front row to see the show better.
A poor, old man who sings outside the fair. His presence introduces the hopelessness of lower-class existence and his ditty introduces the nonchalant pessimism that permeates the novel.
The emcee at the fair booth, who conducts a show with a dancing monkey and "astronomical horse" that can supposedly tell time. His upbeat, playful and showy banter is uncharacteristic of the play's melancholic and pessimistic tone. Yet the content of his speech makes Buchner's main point about man's instinctive vitality, which society suppresses wrongfully and disastrously.
The military official to whom Woyzeck reports, and whom he shaves daily. Woyzeck calls him "my Captain." He is anxious and lethargic, and is almost always shown seated and saying very little in many words. The Officer gives Woyzeck bonuses, which the latter delivers to Marie. However the Officer also makes a habit of mocking Woyzeck pretentiously, saying that he lacks morals and virtue. The Officer represents the middle class, who are lazy and pompous in their security.
A physician and university researcher, who is using Woyzeck as the guinea pig for his unethical experiment. He makes Woyzeck subsist on a diet of only peas in order to track its effects on his physical and mental state. Although Woyzeck makes his hallucinations and torment clear to the Doctor, the latter does nothing to help him, rather being fascinated by his symptoms and pointing them out to his students as though Woyzeck is a lab animal.
A professor collaborating with the Doctor.
1st and 2nd Journeyman
Two workers who are dancing and drinking at the inn when Woyzeck spies Marie with the Drum-Major. They partake freely in the merriment that Woyzeck cannot, although their banter is pessimistic.
Also known as Karl. He helps Marie take care of her child, and can often be found mumbling to himself aimlessly. At the end of the play, he runs off with the child at Woyzeck's request, presumably to become the child's new caregiver.
The owner of the shop Woyzeck visits. He sells Woyzeck the knife with which he fatally stabs Marie for two groschen. As he completes the transaction, he assumes that Woyzeck is buying the knife to commit suicide, and jokes that it will be an "economical death" since the knife is so cheap.
Either Marie's mother and her child's grandmother, or an old woman of the neighborhood. She tells Marie and the children a 'black fairy tale' or 'anti-fairy tale' about a poor orphan who is sad and lonely for all eternity with absolutely no hope for bettering his situation. Although she appears only once and briefly, her story encapsulates Buchner's tragic, fatalistic point of view about man's existence and the fate of the lower class.
Owner of the inn where Woyzeck and others go to drink and dance. He does not believe Woyzeck's excuse that the blood on his hand is his own, and presses him about it until he flees.
A woman who is dancing at the inn when Woyzeck arrives after murdering Marie. She ignores his deranged verbal jabs until she spots the blood on his hands and causes a scene.
The last speaker in the play, who describes the murder as "lovely" to those present in the last scene.
Minor characters who appear at different points in the play. Described by Buchner as: "soldiers, sundry men and women, students, children, court officials, judge."
Woyzeck Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Woyzeck is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Woyzeck is based on a true account of a poor man who was executed for stabbing his wife, Marie, to death. Buchner became fascinated with the case, so much so that he used it as inspiration for the play that would culminate his short literary...
The play was unfinished upon Buchner's death. Several "experts" finished the play at various times. The plays was loosely based on the life of a man named Woyzeck, a soldier who ultimately died from committing murder. Various...
The scenes build the story. They introduce and develop plot and character . Really I think your question is best answered if you read the short GradeSaver summary. It will tell you how the scenes fit together,