Woyzeck Summary and Analysis of Scenes 9-12

Scene 9: Street.

The Officer pays a visit to the Doctor's office. He is anxious and distraught, telling the Doctor he is frightened of horses and begging him to stop rushing around the room. He reveals: "Doctor, I feel so melancholy, I've too much imagination, I can't help sobbing whenever I see my coat hanging on the wall, just hanging there." The Doctor mocks the Officer, telling him matter-of-factly that he is going to give himself a stroke, but if he is lucky it might paralyze only half his body, or just put him in a vegetative state. The possibility of just the Officer's tongue becoming paralyzed entices the Doctor, who in that case would love to perform "the most immortal experiments." At the end of their appointment, the two men tease one another, calling each other "numbskull" and "crackbrain."

Woyzeck runs by and the Officer orders him to stop, then tells him that Marie and the Drum-Major are having an affair and are together nearby at the very moment. Woyzeck is shocked and disbelieving, but soon understands that the Officer is telling him the truth. All the while, the Doctor observes Woyzeck's bodily responses to the news: "your pulse!-small, hard, erratic, irregular ... Facial muscles tense, rigid, occasional spasms, bearing tense, erect." As Woyzeck rushes off to catch Marie in the act, the Doctor follows after him, congratulating him on his symptoms and offering him a bonus. Left alone, the Officer muses on how entertaining he finds the Doctor and Woyzeck. Then he proclaims: "A good man's not courageous, only cowards are courageous. I only went to war to boost my love of life. How absurd to infer courage from that! Grotesque, quite grotesque!"

Scene 10:

A distraught Woyzeck confronts Marie about her affair with the Drum-Major, but she avoids his accusations. When he tells her he witnessed them together with his own eyes, she defies him "cockily," retorting: "And what if you did?"

Scene 11: The Professor's Courtyard.

Woyzeck is assisting a Professor in his lecture by holding a cat for him, but it keeps biting him. The Doctor takes the cat and extracts a tick from it. Then he directs the students' attention to Woyzeck, who is shaking. He explains to them: "This human specimen here, d'you see, for three months it has eaten nothing but peas, observe the effects, just feel how irregular the pulse is, here, and notice the eyes." The Doctor ignores Woyzecks complaint that "everything is going dark," instead ordering Woyzeck to wiggle his ears for the students, who examine him freely. When Woyzeck hesitates, the Doctor ridicules him to the students, saying: "There, gentlemen; what we have here is a throw-back to the ass, often brought about by excessive childhood exposure to women and a vulgar mother tongue." After that brief interlude he returns to objective observations, pointing out that the peas-only diet is making Woyzeck's hair fall out.

Scene 12: The guardroom.

Woyzeck walks in on Andres, who is singing in the guardroom. The weather is fine and the women have left some time ago to go dancing. Woyzeck tells Andres he is "on edge," and is clearly tormented, but Andres calls him "a bloody fool." After Woyzeck begins to ramble and say he must leave, Andres understands why he is so frantic and asks: "All because of her?!" Woyzeck responds simply: "I've got to get away, it's so hot around here."


Scenes 9-12 continue Buchner's close examination of the effects of social status on human identity. Putting the Officer and Doctor together in Woyzeck's absence, especially with their mindless repartee, heightens our awareness that they, as a class, are separate from people like Woyzeck even though they are not necessarily smarter or more interesting. When the Officer is left alone, again we see how his privilege traps him into inaction. While the Doctor is unethical, he is at least interested enough to run after Woyzeck; the Officer stays behind and muses about events instead of being involved in them. On the other hand, Buchner suggests that it is better to be pretentiously uninvolved but harmless like the Officer than harmfully involved like the Doctor.

The scene with the students is crucial in developing Buchner's points about human instinct and social class. It is effectively a replaying of the fair scene, but with Woyzeck instead of the horse at the center of attention. The Doctor is like the Showman, 'entertaining' his audience of students with his animal specimen and spectacle, Woyzeck. He does not even refer to Woyzeck by his name, but calls him a "human specimen," and "it" instead of "he." Woyzeck is treated in a less human manner than the cat he holds. The Doctor gives the cat relief by removing the tick embedded in its skin. However, he gives Woyzeck no such relief. One can say that instead, the Doctor is the tick in Woyzeck's case, draining him on vitality and with it, sensibility.

Regarding the setting, it is interesting that Buchner should portray the university, the very place he himself made a living, as the hotbed of bourgeois ignorance and immorality. Just as the Drum-Major would like to spawn legions of little drum-majors, the Professor and Doctor are 'spawning' countless new professionals who will think of and treat others the way they do. Despite the fact that his physical and mental states are declining and he is treated like an experimental specimen, Woyzeck's emotions are the most human of any character Buchner presents. While the others in the room lack emotion-supposedly what makes us human-he has so much of it that it is beginning to destroy him and as we know, will eventually cause him to murder Marie.

From here on, Buchner continually heightens the contrast between Woyzeck and his foils in order to show how human his experience as a 'guinea pig' makes him. In addition to the Officer and Doctors' detachment, Andres no longer pays heed to or allows himself to be frightened by Woyzeck's hallucinations. He too divorces himself from any real sympathy towards Woyzeck. Even Marie becomes more of a caricature, the bawdy, unapologetic tart she only claims to be in the earlier scene with the mirror. Meanwhile, Woyzeck's range of emotion increases because he is now mad in both the psychological and emotional sense; crazy and angry. Even though he is losing his mind, his tormented heart makes him the most human of any character and we sympathize with him.

In Scene 12, Buchner begins to use heat to symbolize both passion and madness, which are intimately connected throughout the play. Woyzeck complains that the guardroom is too hot and leaves. Yet, it is not temperature that bothers him; rather it is the knowledge that Marie is 'hot under the collar' about the Drum-Major as well as the rise of his own passionate anger that are beginning to overwhelm him.