Woyzeck Summary and Analysis
Scene 13: Inn.
Scene 13 takes us to a place of merriment, an inn, where young men are dancing and drinking. The 1st Journeyman and 2nd Journeyman exchange rowdy banter as they drink away their sorrows, such as: "I could fill a barrel to the brim with tears. Wish our snouts was bottles and we could pour 'em down each others' throats." Others sing folk songs in unison. Woyzeck looks into the window of the inn, where he sees Marie dancing with the Drum-Major. Woyzeck becomes furious, disbelieving that they would dance and grope at each other in "broad daylight" for all to see. He spouts angrily: "The bitch! The bitch is hot, so hot! Go on, go on! The bastard!" Then the 1st Journeyman stands on top of a table and preaches drunkenly about man's purpose. He says that life is imperfect by definition and "all is vanity, even money turns rotten in the end." His speech culminates with the irreverent summation: "In conclusion, dear brethren, let us piss on the cross that a Jew might die."
Scene 14: Open Field.
In this very short scene, Woyzeck is alone in an open field, which may be the same location as the first scene. He responds to a voice in his head telling him to stab Marie to death, repeating over and over: "Stab, stab the bitch dead."
Scene 15: Night.
Andres and Woyzeck share a bed in the barracks. The maniacal voice in Woyzeck's head keeps him awake, repeating over and over its command to murder Marie. We discover that now Woyzeck hears the walls speaking to him as well; his madness is becoming all-encompassing. Andres ignores him and goes back to sleep, leaving Woyzeck to rave alone in the silence.
Scene 16: Barrack Square.
The next day, Woyzeck and Andres are in the barrack square, where they talk about the Drum-Major. Andres reports the Drum-Major's hungry comments about Marie: "Real tasty bit of stuff! Talk about thighs! And how all over, so bloody hot!" Woyzeck departs rather abruptly, supposedly to fetch wine for the Officer. As he leaves, he tells a rather oblivious Andres: "But what a girl, Andres; real special, she was." Andres responds, simply: "Who was?" and a detached Woyzeck responds: "Nothing. See you."
Although the play's fragmented structure rejects the traditional one of climax and denouement, Scenes 13-16 can be said to mark one major climactic change in the narrative. In the space of these few short scenes, Woyzeck transitions from pathetic instability to raging madness. His witnessing Marie's infidelity sets this intensification in motion, which is marked by the repetition of cyclicality associated with dancing and insanity. The circular motion of the dance translates from joy and excitement on Marie and the Drum-Major's part into the dizzying motions of madness in Woyzeck. It begins when he mockingly repeats Marie, urging, "Go on, go on!" and then transitions into the cycle of "Stab, stab the bitch dead" that continues until that very deed is done. Buchner uses circularity not only to connect Woyzeck's torment to Marie's deception, but to emphasize that Woyzeck is helplessly swept up in an obsessive current. He also suggests that there is a thrilling element to madness. Indeed, we call a horror movie-which often involves a psychopath if not other embodiments of psychosis-a thriller.
In these scenes, sex and madness are both closely associated with the sensation of heat. Marie is said to be "hot" when she is with the Drum-Major, which is indeed just how (as Andres reports) the Drum-Major describes her to the Sergeant. When Woyzeck hears this, he turns on a dime emotionally, which Buchner reflects in the stage direction, "with icy coldness." Suddenly Woyzeck's 'hot' passionate rage becomes coldly calculating as he premeditates the murder. It is with this switch from 'hot' to 'cold' that he crosses the threshold from madness as rage into madness as psychosis, deciding once and for all that he will kill Marie. Whereas heat indicated Woyzeck's intensely "human" passion, which his middle-class superiors lack, cold indicates an emotional detachment from the situation and his actions that allows him to become "inhuman." From then on he is steely even in the act of stabbing Marie. When he speaks to Andres at the end of Scene 16, he uses the past tense, "real special, she was," to indicate his resolution. In his mind, Marie is already 'dead to him' because of her blatant infidelity, and he determines to see to it that she is physically dead as well. The phrase, "real special, she was" is also chillingly casual, underlining the degree of Woyzeck's resolution as well as his detachment.
Woyzeck Essays and Related Content
- Woyzeck: Major Themes
- Woyzeck: E-Text
- Woyzeck: Questions
- Woyzeck: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Georg Buchner: Biography
- Woyzeck Summary
- About Woyzeck
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 1-4
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 5-8
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 9-12
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 13-16
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 17-20
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 21-24
- Summary and Analysis of Scenes 25-29
- German Naturalism
- Related Links on Woyzeck
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 5
- Author of ClassicNote and Sources