Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening Summary and Analysis of III, v - III, vi

Mrs. Bergman, Ina, and Dr. Fizzpowder are gathered around Wendla, who lies in bed. Dr. Fizzpowder is asking Wendla questions and explaining his advice to her mother. He tells Mrs. Bergmann that Wendla's illness is very similar to that of a Baroness he successfully treated. As he directs Wendla to take Blaud's pills as many times a day as she can stand, he explains why he made these choices for the Baroness as well. He encourages Wendla to eat as much as she can and get as much exercise as she can, and assures her that her symptoms will soon cease.

After the doctor has left, Ina stands by the window and tells Wendla that the plane tree has changed color, and that she must soon leave. She has to meet her husband and buy some clothing for her children. Wendla tells her that she is generally so very happy, but then she "get[s] the toothache" and she feels so miserable; her mother's reaction, she says, only makes her worse. Ina asks her if she can readjust her pillow, then Mrs. Bergmann comes back into the bedroom, happily telling Wendla that her "vomiting will die down" and everything will be fine. Ina agrees that Wendla will soon be well and kisses them goodbye.

Once Ina has left, Wendla asks her mother what the doctor told her outside the room. Mrs. Bergmann insists that he said only that the Baroness also fainted, which is a normal symptom of anemia. Wendla insists that it's not anemia, it's dropsy, and she feels sure she's going to die. Mrs. Bergmann insists that she won't die, but finally admits that Wendla is pregnant. Almost hysterical, she asks Wendla why she has done this to her. Wendla doesn't understand what her mother is talking about, but Mrs. Bergmann only continues to accuse her. Finally, it becomes clear that Wendla doesn't know how it happened; she admits that she and Melchior were in the hay, but insists that she never loved anyone but her mother. Her mother finally understands, and Wendla asks her why she didn't tell her what sex was when she first asked. Mrs. Bergmann says she couldn't have done anything differently; she'd only done as her own mother had done, and now they must hope for the best. Wendla hears someone at the door, and when Mrs. Bergmann opens it she sees Mother Schmidt. She tells her she's come at the right time and invites her inside.

The setting of the next scene is a vineyard: Hanschen and Ernst are "at the uppermost vine trellis, beneath the over-hanging cliffs, rolling in the drying grass." Ernst and Hanschen have been eating the grapes, and at are commiserating in their fullness. Hanschen makes a comment about the future, and Ernst describes a vision of himself as a "worthy pastor" with a wife, a library, and all the privileges that come with such respectability - though at the end his vision of "girls bring[ing] apples in through the garden door" becomes a bit lewd. Hanschen counters this by describing a life of pure sensual enjoyment. He argues that adults don't really consider respectability a worthy goal at all; they want the same things that he wants now. He argues that he wants to be rich; he wants to be one of the men who "skim the cream" rather than one of those who "knocks it over and bawls" or "churns it up and sweats."

Ernst agrees, and they continue along in this vein until Hanschen asks Ernst if he is "starting over," referring to the fact that the boys have masturbated to completion just before the beginning of the scene. Hanschen suggests that when they are old they will remember this moment as incredibly beautiful, and their double entendres continue until Hanschen kisses Ernst on the mouth. Ernst seems relieved and happy, saying he hadn't thought anything was going to happen. Hanschen suggests that "virtue" is overrated, and Ernst tells him that they are certainly not virtuous, but he was never happy until he knew Hanschen, and that he loves him. Hanschen tells him not to be "sad" and to think about how it will all seem when they are older.


The scene between Wendla and her mother is both one of the saddest and one of the funniest in the play. Dr. Fizzpowder's obsession with his aristocratic patient, his rambling and unintelligible advice with its bevy of contradictions, and his gentle affection for Wendla create a picture of a bumbling country doctor who relies more on people's respect for his medical authority than on any actual knowledge. While this scene cannot help but undermine the idea of medical authority, it seems likely that the real target of Wedekind's pen is the village itself. While the village represents an enclave against unhealthy city living, the provincialism bred by this separatism leads to a lack of progress.

The tragic nature of this scene is heightened by Wendla's continued ignorance of what is going on around and inside her. Wendla's belief that she is dying recalls Moritz's fear that something was seriously wrong with him when he was only experiencing his first erection. Wendla and Moritz's only understanding of the physical is of health versus sickness. When their bodies undergo changes, they both believe that they are dying. Wendla's continued ignorance also sheds some light on Melchior's theory that "if you took two kittens...and shut them up together for life...sooner or later the she-cat would become pregnant." Melchior believes that sex is an instinctive act for people as well as cats, but what Melchior doesn't ask is whether the she-cat, or the girl, would ever understand what caused the pregnancy. Wendla may have instinctively understood what Melchior did to her, but she needs more information to understand that Melchior's rape led to her pregnancy.

When Mrs. Bergmann invites Mother Schmidt into the house, the audience might guess that she is there to administer an abortion. At that point, one should make note of the fact that Mrs. Bergmann had hoped to convince Wendla that she had anemia and bring about an abortion without her noticing. Despite everything that has happened, Mrs. Bergmann still wants to keep Wendla in a state of ignorance - or at least to allow herself to remain ignorant of what Wendla knows.

This scene is distinct from others in the play because it seems to infringe on the capabilities of stagecraft. Wedekind suggests the presence of a "cast of thousands," and Hanschen and Ernst must be separated from the others by a wide expanse of space. One possible explanation is that Wedekind expected Spring Awakening to be a "book drama": a play that is primarily read, rather than performed. Wedekind must have been aware of the controversy this play would create, and probably suspected that it was not likely to be performed as written. These suspicions proved correct, because for decades this play was only performed in a drastically censored version. This scene was typically cut from performances in Germany until the modern day.

While the scene would have been cut primarily for its depiction of homosexuality, it is also one of the bitterest satires of village social mores. Hanschen and Ernst reveal a serous lack of moral understanding, one which clearly results from the moral vacuum they were raised in. Hanschen believes, and convinces Ernst, that respectability, honesty, and integrity are all lies made up by adults to help them be happy with their own lives. He insists that the ideal life, the one that everyone would live if they could, is that of the thief who "skims the cream" rather than working for it. In the context of the play as a whole, one cannot be surprised that Hanschen would feel this way. In this scene, it is especially clear how Wedekind uses the voices of children to unleash a devastating critique of his society.

At the same time, Hanschen and Ernst provide the audience with a modicum of hope. Spring Awakening contains a great many deaths, and a great many blighted futures. One must wonder whether Martha will survive her father's beatings, whether Ilse will survive her love affairs, and whether a suicide epidemic will overtake this school, as well. Ernst and Hanschen, however, seem vital, happy, and alive. Though their views of the future may be twisted and sad, they do see a future for themselves. These boys are not afraid of growing up.