Joseph Campbell’s definition of a hero states that “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself” (Campbell 123). The concept of the hero has been present and in active use by storytellers since humans first began telling stories. Myths and legends of every culture and tradition have heroes whose purpose is to serve as role models and character lessons to those who hear or read their stories. The hero of a story can take many forms depending on the purpose of the story, reflecting the society of the writer. The purpose of post WWII German literature is largely to tell the story of those world-changing events as the individual authors felt it needed or deserved to be told at a particular point in time. As time passed, however, that purpose shifted in focus as the society shifted its focus in how the war era was to be remembered and dealt with in both politics and society. A look at the heroes of Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus and Jurek Becker’s Jacob the Liar shows how the concept of the hero in post WWII German literature changed from the mid 1940s to the late 1960s in parallel to the societal changes in the interpretations and memories of the war that took place over the same years.
Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus: the life of the German composer Adrian Leverkühn as told by a friend is the story of Adrian Leverkühn, a composer who strives for musical perfection and wants to reach it badly enough that he literally sells his soul to the devil. The story is told by a friend of Adrian’s, a man who is often as much telling Germany’s story as he is Adrian’s. The novel was written in 1947, only two years after the close of WWII. As such...
... middle of paper ...
...he ghettos. Neither hero is greater nor lesser than the other, they simply serve different purposes with each reflecting the society as it was when their stories were written. By looking at how the heroes in the literature changed over time, one can see a clear picture of the changes in the interpretations of memory in post WWII Germany over the first few decades after the close of the war.
Becker, Jurek. Jacob the Liar. Trans. Leila Vennewitz. New York: Plume, 1997.
Campbell, Joseph and Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth. Betty Sue Flowers, ed. New York: Doubleday, 1988.
Herf, Jeffrey. Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1997.
Mann, Thomas. Doctor Faustus: the life of the German composer Adrian Leverkühn as told by a friend. Trans. John E. Woods. New York: Vintage Books, Random House, Inc., 1999.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Doctor Faustus as Apollonian Hero How long will a man lie i' th' earth ere he rot. - Hamlet, V, i, 168 The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus is Marlowe's misreading of the drama of the morality tradition, the Faust legend, and, ironically, his own Tamburlaine plays. In the development of the character of Doctor Faustus, we find one of the supreme artistic achievements of English dramatic literature, a milestone of artistic creativity and originality. The force of Marlowe's dramatic poetry resonates with lyrical intensity in its dialectic between world and will.... [tags: Doctor Faustus]
4836 words (13.8 pages)
- Doctor Faustus as Tragic Hero Doctor Faustus died a death that few could bear to imagine, much less experience. After knowing for many years when exactly he would die, he reached the stroke of the hour of his destiny in a cowardly, horrid demeanor. Finally, when the devils appeared at the stroke of midnight, tearing at his flesh as they draw him into his eternal torment, he screams for mercy without a soul, not even God Himself, to help him. However, what to consider Doctor John Faustus from Christopher Marlow's dramatic masterpiece The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus is a very debatable issue. For example, one can see that he threw his life away for the sake o... [tags: Doctor Faustus Essays]
3330 words (9.5 pages)
- A Historicism Approach to Doctor Faustus A young man studies theology his entire life and in turn receives his Doctrine in this field. One lonesome and desperate night, he decides to ignore God and fulfill his deepest desires. Hence, he conjures up a servant of Lucifer and agrees to sell his soul only if he can receive whatever or whomever he desires. This is the story of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Doctor Faustus is a doctor of theology that wants no limits on what he can know or see or do so he sells his soul to the devil to gain these desires.... [tags: Doctor Faustus Essays]
841 words (2.4 pages)
- Dr. Faustus and the Christian Moral In the play Doctor Faustus the main character sells his soul to the devil and later dies and is sent to hell. A question that comes to mind when reading this book is, "Does Doctor Faustus have a Christian moral?" Even though he is persuaded to sell his soul to the devil he still may have some Christian beliefs. Some of the dialogue in the play gives some signals that tell the reader if Faustus has a Christian moral. The Cultural Studies method is shown in this paper because we are talking about someone's beliefs or morals.... [tags: Doctor Faustus Essays]
534 words (1.5 pages)
- The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus - Analysis of Doctor Faustus' Final Soliloquy Dr. Turk’s comments: This is a good example of close analysis. The writer pays attention not only to what the character says, but also to his actions, or non-action, to make his conclusions about the character of Dr. Faustus. Doctor Faustus' final soliloquy takes place during his last hour to live before his deal with the devil expires and he is carried off to spend eternity in hell. At this point, he has turned down every opportunity to repent of his sins and call on God to save him from eternal damnation.... [tags: Doctor Faustus]
892 words (2.5 pages)
- From the outset of Marlowe's play 'Doctor Faustus,' it is clear that Faustus is a man who is unwilling to accept the limitations of human knowledge. In seeking to become more than a man, with no regard for the spiritual consequences, he becomes an example to the religious audience of Marlowe's time of what happens when a man pursues knowledge undeterred by moral boundaries. From the outset of the play, Faustus appears to be driven by his thirst for knowledge. The chorus introduces him as 'gluttedâ€¦with learning's golden gifts,' and led by his desire to further expand his knowledge he 'surfeits upon cursed necromancy.' Here, I noticed that imagery connected with food and overindulgence is us... [tags: The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus]
1681 words (4.8 pages)
- Gluttony in Doctor Faustus Doctor Faustus is a scholar who questions all knowledge and finds it lacking. Because none of his learning will allow him to transcend his mortal condition, he rejects God and forms a pact with Lucifer all the while pursuing the arts of black magic. Of course, this is one more propaganda piece of Western Christianity attempting to argue that knowledge is dangerous and confining instead of rewarding and liberating. It also suggests a Protestant parallel in its representation that one who believes in everything ends up believing in nothing. However, if we cast aside its use as a socio-economic, ideological tool of manipulation, we can explore its character,... [tags: Doctor Faustus Essays]
1511 words (4.3 pages)
- Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe Elizabeth I came to the throne of England during a time of intense religious turmoil and political uncertainty. By the end of her reign, England stood as the first officially Protestant nation in Europe; however, tensions between Protestants and the repressed Catholic minority continued to plague the nation. Much of the literature produced during the time of her reign reflected sensitivities to religion and resulting political intrigues. In his play Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe places the title character in a power struggle similar in form to those conflicts dominating Elizabethan life.... [tags: Doctor Faustus Christopher Marlowe Essays]
1998 words (5.7 pages)
- Marlowe's Doctor Faustus In Faustus' first speech in Act 1, my main feeling towards Faustus was not sympathy but irritation. I became aware of Faustus' arrogance and his impatience with ordinary learning, particularly with his referral to law as 'a petty case of paltry legacies.' He also constantly refers to himself as 'Faustus', reminding himself of his own importance. Other aspects of Faustus' character are revealed in the descriptive language he uses. He is 'ravish'd' by magic, and is 'glutted' with learning.... [tags: Marlowe Doctor Faustus Essays]
889 words (2.5 pages)
- Marlowe's Doctor Faustus Marlowe's representation of Doctor Faustus changes direction through the play. We follow the change in ambition and greed of a human being who seeks pleasure so much that he sells his soul to the devil for a number of years. Does the power that Faustus obtains corrupt him or is he merely dissatisfied with the power he has and is greedy for more. At the start of the play, Marlowe uses powerful language when referring to Faustus' search for knowledge. "O, What a world of profit and delight, of power, of honour, of omnipotence, is promis'd to the studious artisan".... [tags: Marlowe Doctor Faustus Essays]
1000 words (2.9 pages)