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Schiller's Fiesco-A Republican Tragedy?
Reginald H. Phelps
Vol. 89, No. 3 (May, 1974), pp. 442-453
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461580
Page Count: 12
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Schiller's subtitle, "Ein republikanisches Trauerspiel," creates serious difficulties of interpretation. His four principal historical sources give little basis for regarding the conspirators or the conspiracy as "republican" in the sense of "antimonarchical." The play itself likewise disregards the republican motif. A study of the vocabulary shows that such politically emotional words as Republik, Freiheit, Bürger, Volk are infrequently used and are likely to bear a neutral or negative-ironic meaning. Schiller's two later versions, the Mannheim stage version and the Leipzig/Dresden manuscript, show no conspicuous change in his use of such terms. The play belongs rather among contemporary dramas generalizing about freedom than to the category of sociopolitical Tendenzdrama, and concerns Republik in the older sense of res publica rather than in the modern meaning. Not Rousseau, but Plutarch as translated by G. B. von Schirach, most strongly influenced Schiller in theme, incidents, traits of character, and perhaps political attitude. The play appears as a conflict among three strong personalities-Fiesco, Verrina, and Andreas Doria-for power within the state; and Doria, representing the essence of the state, may be the real "hero."
PMLA © 1974 Modern Language Association