Woyzeck Summary and Analysis of Scenes 25-29

Scene 25:

Woyzeck returns to search for the knife, which could be used as evidence against him. He stumbles upon Marie's body and suddenly seems to soften, although he is not remorseful. He utters: "Quiet. Everything's quiet ... Why so pale, Marie? Why this red necklace around your neck? Who d'you earn the necklace from with all your sins? Black with it you were, black! I've made you go white again. Why does it hang so wild, your black, black hair?" Then he takes the knife and, hearing someone approaching, rushes off.

Scene 26:

Woyzeck is at a pond. He throws the knife into the water. Then, he considers that people might find it while swimming, so he wades in after it and throws it deeper. He wishes he had destroyed it in case it somehow is found. Then he proceeds to wash himself to remove all evidence of Marie's blood.

Scene 27:

One child calls to another, "Come on, Marie!" and tells her the news that a dead lady has been found "beyond the ditch, by the red cross." The second child responds: "Let's go and see it quick, or they'll take it away."

Scene 28:

The Idiot, Karl, holds Marie and Woyzeck's child on his lap and sings him a popular folk song, beginning with the lines: "He's fallen in the water, he's fallen in the water, look, he's fallen in the water." Woyzeck arrives and tries to hold his child, who wriggles away from him and screams. When he tries to give the child a toy soldier, the child again rejects him. Karl repeats the refrain, "He's fallen in the water," throughout the short scene, and stares "fixedly" at Woyzeck. Finally, Woyzeck sends Karl off with the child, saying: "Giddyup, horsie, giddyup!" This is the last we see or hear of Woyzeck.

Scene 29:

Presumably in a courtroom, a Policeman addresses Court officials, the Doctor, and a Judge. The Policeman proclaims: "A good murder, a proper murder, a lovely murder, as lovely a murder as anyone could wish, we've not had a murder like this for years."


Buchner makes sure to mention that it is quiet at the scene of the murder when Woyzeck returns there. Presumably, this means that the controlling voice in his head has been relieved by the act of murdering Marie. Yet he has not snapped out of his mad state, as evidenced by his fascination instead of horror upon finding her body. His tone is lightheartedly macabre, calling the gash in her throat a present, a "necklace." He almost coos to her as he justifies having killed her. He says that she was "black" with sin, and he was right to drain the life (and blood) out of her to "[make her] go white again." From this point on, Woyzeck loses the power that he held briefly in wielding his strength over Marie. He is again vulnerable and spends the rest of the play fleeing from human contact and being distrusted in its presence, as by Kathe, the innkeeper, and his child.

Buchner might have expanded the scene between the two children had he finished Woyzeck. As it stands, the scene gives a quick outside view of the murder to remind us that although it is central to the play and to the lives of Woyzeck and Marie, it is just one small example of man's suffering. The children approach the murder with a sort of grotesque curiosity but without a hint of sadness or disgust, simply wanting to rush to the scene before Marie's body is taken away. Her death is not only senseless, but is 'no big deal' in society, where suffering and tragedy are simply man's lot. The first child is also named Marie to underscore the fact that the murder is far from an isolated incident. The story of suffering is universal and will be repeated as long as humans exist; therefore the moment the main character Marie dies, a young Marie emerges to take her place and implicitly suffer her fate. In fact, this young Marie is about to lose her innocence when she sees the older Marie's dead body and learns about tragedy and horror.

In Scenes 26 and 28, Buchner uses water to underscore that Woyzeck cannot escape his crime. Even though he wades deeper into the water to try to destroy the evidence, no matter what depth of water he throws the knife in, he himself is "in deep." Instead of baptizing him and absolving him of his crime, the water can only hide it with no guarantee that it will not resurface. The Idiot, Karl, echoes this when he keeps repeating, "He's fallen in the water." Woyzeck has indeed "fallen" prey to the pressures of society, which drove him mad and turned him from a simple barber, lover and father into a cold-blooded murderer. Even Woyzeck's child seems to sense that he is depraved, screaming and refusing to let his father hold him. However, Woyzeck return to his child's side reminds us that he is a good, loving person at heart. (In some versions of the play, we last see Woyzeck wading into the pond as if further into his pathetic situation.)

The play's last scene is strange and disembodied; we learn no more of the trial than the Policeman's short statement, and we do not know what he means when he calls the murder "proper" and "lovely." This is, of course, partially because the play was never finished; however it is a fitting end to a play that is so disjointed and strange. The Policeman seems satisfied with the murder. He may consider it "proper" and "lovely" because it is an act of revenge, or because the culprit's identity is so obvious. In any case, his comments underline the fact that man is naturally drawn to and admires the grotesque. Just as the children rush over to the murder scene to gander at Marie's body, the Policeman finds the murder somehow satisfying. Whereas the historical Woyzeck's story ended with a definite finality-his execution-Buchner's fictionalization ends uncertainly, highlighting his point that the only thing of which one can be sure is that life is dark and tragic.