Psychology in Modern Drama and Buchner's Woyzeck
When reading the play Woyzeck by Georg Buchner, one must be willing to delve deep into the surreal as well as the confusing and even uncomfortable. The play hinges upon psychology and the fact (one of the few facts found in the play, even) that the main character of the play (Woyzeck) has obvious psychological problems that none of the other characters seem to pay attention to. Psychology is a constant theme in modern drama, and Buchner seems to bring that to the forefront in Woyzeck, especially.
But why is psychology so pertinent to modern drama? Modern drama, specifically, seems to focus on the more dark and twisted things in human nature, and what can be the darkest and most twisted creations besides the mind? C. Bigsby, in his article titled, Drama As Cultural Sign states, “drama has always had the power to engage the present in a way that is less true of other genres.” Again, modern drama especially seems to focus on psychology. It is engaging to the audience, and an interesting new subject to explore in drama. There are far too many examples of psychology used in modern drama to focus on in this essay, but a few to name have been read in class, such as Machinal, A Doll’s House, The Birthday Party and even Angels in America. It is true that every play in existence incorporates psychology into it, but modern plays, and these specifically, make it much more obvious and almost seem to take it upon themselves to purposely make the audience uncomfortable and push the audience into a position where they are forced to recognize some sense of surrealism in life and a basic sense of “screwed-up”ness, as it were, that exists in life.
If there are so many examples of surrealism and psychology in modern drama, why focus specifically on Buchner’s play Woyzeck, which is even considered by some to be unfinished? “There is something almost uncanny about the spell it casts over audiences.” (Hauser) This play, out of all the rest, is based on a real person who committed the terrible crime that is shown in the play. Not only this, but the real Woyzeck was obviously disturbed mentally, and the case would have been one Buchner was quite familiar with – and, apparently very intrigued with – despite the fact that it had been quite some time since it had happened. Psychology seems to be something that, as much as people may attempt to pull away from, everyone finds themselves drawn to in one way or another. Buchner chose to write a very confusing and surreal play about a soldier who murders his lover – but “adds the twist” of the soldier being mentally disturbed. This was not something he made up on his own, however. He used real people and even mocked some of them in his play. The quotation mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph shows, again, that people are intrigued by psychology. Despite the confusion of the play and the horrible act committed in it, audiences cannot help but watch...