Femininity in Goethe's Iphigenia in Tauris Essay

Femininity in Goethe's Iphigenia in Tauris Essay

Length: 1469 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

When we are first introduced to Iphigenie, she laments her life as a woman, and contrasts it with the life of a man. Goethe's Iphigenia in Tauris abounds with references to gender roles: behavioral norms considered appropriate for an individual based on their gender. However, while Iphigenie is portrayed as the epitome of a feminine being (compassionate, gentle, pure/devout, honest and effective at communicating1), her interactions with the male characters challenge the construct of traditional gender roles. Instead of being limited by her femininity, Iphigenie proves herself to embody characteristics that are considered quintessentially male traits (assertiveness, rationality, and resolve2) to a greater extent than the male characters in the play. Thus, Iphigenia in Tauris can be read as an argument against the idea of strict gender expectations.
Throughout the drama, there is a strong emphasis on gender. Characters often refer to their own genders, as well as the gender of others, using them as a way of explaining or predicting personality traits and actions. The audience is quickly introduced to the subject of gender roles in society during Iphigenie's opening soliloquy. The character sorrowfully expresses self-pity about her limitations as a woman:
I will not judge the counsel of the gods;
Yet, truly, woman's lot doth merit pity...
How circumscrib'd is woman's destiny!
Obedience to a harsh, imperious lord,
Her duty, and her comfort;
sad her fate... (Act 1, Scene i)
With these words, Iphigenie is not only reflecting on the role society has placed upon her, but on how constricting this role can be.
Frequently, the male characters make claims about the traits of Iphigenie based on her womanhood. These claims are often manipu...


... middle of paper ...


... of the German Classic period, but a challenge to the idea of the limiting nature of femininity.



Works Cited

Bem, Sandra L. Bem Sex-Role Inventory: Professional Manual. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists, 1981. Print.
Cancian, Francesca M. “The Feminization of Love.” Signs:Journal of Women in Culture and Society 11.4 (1986):692-709. Print.
De Vaus, David, and Ian McAllister. “Gender differences in Religion: A Test of the Structural Location Theory.”American Sociological Review 52.4 (1987):472-81. Print.
Lange, Sigrid. “The “Other Subject” of History: Women in Goethe's Drama.” Impure Reason: Dialectic of Enlightenment in Germany. Eds. W. Daniel Wilson and Robert C. Holub. Detroit: Wayne State University Press,1993.260-277. Print.
Prandi, Julie D. “Goethe's Iphigenie as Woman.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 60.1 (1985):23-31. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Sorrow Of Young Werther by Goethe

- Death has been the consequent for the main characters in each of the first four novels read for the course. The protagonist in each of the first four novels; Werther, Rafael, Ivan Ilyich, and K., respectively; met their demise on the final page of their respective novels. All four directly or indirectly were the cause of their painful demise. Werther chose suicide over conforming to the ways of adulthood, and moving further away from nature. Rafael chose to live a life of possessions, and in turn, his inner-self dwindled....   [tags: Goethe Sorrow Young Werther]

Powerful Essays
1648 words (4.7 pages)

The Dramatic Tragedy Of Faust By Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Essay

- The Romanticism period is marked by changes in societal beliefs as a rejection of the values and scientific thought pursued during the Age of Enlightenment. During this period, art, music, and literature are seen as high achievement, rather than the science and logic previously held in esteem. Nature is a profound subject in the art and literature and is viewed as a powerful force. Searching for the meaning of self becomes a noble quest to undertake. In the dramatic tragedy of “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, we find a masterpiece of Romanticism writing that includes the concepts that man is essentially good, the snare of pride, and dealing with the supernatural....   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Romanticism]

Powerful Essays
974 words (2.8 pages)

The Romantic Hero in Goethe's Faust Essay

- The Romantic Hero in Goethe's Faust Works Cited Not Included Long hailed as the watershed of Romantic literature, Goethe’s Faust uses the misadventures of its hero to parallel the challenges that pervaded European society in the dynamic years of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Faust is the prototypical Romantic hero because the transformation of his attitudes mirrors the larger transformation that was occurring in the society in which Goethe conceived the play....   [tags: Papers Essays Goethe Faust ]

Powerful Essays
1559 words (4.5 pages)

The Nature Of Innocence By Wolfgang Von Goethe And Mary Shelley 's ' The Great Gatsby '

- Innocence can often times be acceptable, such as when a young child breaks an expensive item, or if a friend were to feed someone food that she did not know would cause an allergic reaction. Though innocence can be a typical label for someone that is uncorrupted by negative experiences or unaware of consequences, it easily becomes destructive because it can be used as a tool to construe a situation in a way that’s beneficial to one person. Both Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Mary Shelley’s characters idealize innocence in ways that justify their actions, no matter how horrid, through downplaying the existence of other traits and factors that may exist in a complex situation besides innocenc...   [tags: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Romanticism]

Powerful Essays
1785 words (5.1 pages)

Goethe's Magical Philosophy and Possession of Nature Essay

- Goethe's Magical Philosophy and Possession of Nature After hearing comments from the class, and especially Professor, about Goethe's appropriation of nature I began to wonder about the argument I had presented in our presentation. I decided to do further research and found some interesting arguments that both supported and detracted from my original statement. Although I think Goethe's relationship to nature is undeniable, perhaps his "appropriation" of nature is less clear. I think the term "appropriation" is the cause of the problem in identifying his true relationship to nature....   [tags: Goethe Nature Essays Papers]

Powerful Essays
1270 words (3.6 pages)

A Research Study On Virginity, Femininity, And Body Image Essay

- Understanding and examining what others have said about topics that have not normally been talked about has sparked an interesting conversation. I have been able to gain insight on issues from two different perspectives giving me a better understanding on how people are affected by the topics I have chosen as my focus.In this semesters Gender Studies class discussion about virginity, femininity, and body image stood out the most because it influences everyday life. Getting the opportunity to ask to close friends what they felt about these topics was fascinating....   [tags: Gender, Gender role, Femininity, Woman]

Powerful Essays
1622 words (4.6 pages)

Travels Abroad with Goethe's Italian Journey Essay

- Travels Abroad with Goethe's Italian Journey Foreign travel, I think, is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in life. You never really get a chance in life to explore who you really are and what you believe until you're able to leave your daily life and spend time in a place where everything's drastically different. Of course, not all travel is mind opening and horizon broadening. Some people just go abroad in a tourist frame of mind. The only thing they want to do when they visit somewhere else is visit famous sites, eat local food, and buy presents for those back home....   [tags: Traveling Goethe Analysis Essays Papers]

Free Essays
1539 words (4.4 pages)

Character Analysis of Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther

- Character Analysis of Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther The purpose of this papers it to give general information about the author, Wolfgang von Goethe, and introduce as well as analyze the main character of one of his most influential works: The Sorrows of Young Werther. The protagonist of this series of confessional letters, Werther, is in fact a tragic figure who committed suicide as a result of his loneliness and critical approach to society, as well as his obsession for a woman, Lotte, whom he could not eventually conquest....   [tags: Wolfgang von Goethe Papers]

Powerful Essays
1943 words (5.6 pages)

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe Essay

- 	Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who lived to the age of eighty-two and produced more than 130 volumes of poetry, plays, letters, and science, is acknowledged to be one of the giants of world literature. His writing ranged from fairy tales, to psychological novels, to political and historical novels, and to something completely unique and different such as Faust. 	Goethe was born shortly after the death of the Pope, on August 28, 1749 in Frankfurt am Main to a middle class family. His mother had many connections because she was a daughter of the mayor....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
1016 words (2.9 pages)

Femininity Essay

- The New Femininity Femininity is not a word that we are encouraged to use these days. A lot of people would argue that femininity is the thing that keeps women obedient to men. However, there is a hidden assumption behind this term. The assumption is that masculinity is superior to femininity; that femininity is not a beautiful and powerful thing in its own right. I believe that women have something men do not have. Women have special qualities that belong to them as women, and they do not intend to suppress those special qualities....   [tags: essays research papers]

Powerful Essays
587 words (1.7 pages)