“Ignorance and innocence are not always synonymous” (Ziegler 5) is the moral of Frank Wedekind’s play, Frühlings Erwachen, which was first performed in 1906. Wedekind employs satire to warn against the dangers of lack of education for the youth of the play. Spring Awakening, as it is known to English audiences, tells the story of three teenagers, who are being awakened to their sexual desires. However, they are entirely unprepared to deal with these desires. Thus, “the awakening leads to death” (Boa, Spring Awakening 27) in the case of two of the characters and leads the third character to become “imprisoned as a moral degenerate.” (Ziegler 5) In 2007, Spring Awakening: A New Musical, based on Wedekind’s play, premiered on Broadway. It went on to win eight Tony Awards. This musical took most of the original scenes and interlaced modern, pop musical numbers into it. The songs served as a way to show the modernity of the issues raised in the play and to show the innermost thoughts of the characters.
In the original play, the problem lies with the parents, who have failed to educate their children on matters of sex and their bodies. This leaves their children ill prepared to deal with their sexual urges for one another. The adults attempt to mold their children into their own “ideal self-image” (Boa, Spring Awakening 35-36) They do all of this “in the name of morality, but in reality to satisfy personal desires.” (Boa, Spring Awakening 35-36) One could make the argument that the tragedy of the play occurs because of the adults. Moritz commits suicide only after his father disowns him for failing in school. Wendla dies at the hand of an abortionist only after her mother forces her to get an abortion for fear of what people would think of the family if her child were to have a child. Melchior is sent to a penitentiary only after his mother turns on him for standing by the girl he has gotten pregnant. Each of their fates are foreshadowed early on in the play. Wedekind cleverly clues the reader into what will happen. In the second scene of the first act, Melchior remarks,
I believe in instinct. I believe, for example, that if one brought up a male and a female cat together, and kept both separated from the outside world—that is, left them entirely to their own devices—that, sooner or later, the she cat would become pregnant, even if she, and the tom cat as well, had nobody to open their eyes by example. (Wedekind 17)
This is exactly what happens to the lovers. They are left to their own devices and Melchior uses knowledge that he has attained by reading books rather than being taught to have sex with Wendla, which results in her pregnancy. Moritz, in the fourth scene of the first act, says, “if I hadn’t been promoted I would have shot myself.” (Wedekind 26) This ends up happening after he falls to pass the next examination, which means he will not move on in the fall. Wendla, as she is about to find out about her pregnancy, exclaims, “I...