Das Orest-Problem in Johann Wolfgang von Goethes "Iphigenie auf Tauris"
Heinsen, Gudrun H
Master of Arts
The thesis sets out to show that Orest's salvation is of the utmost importance to the unraveling of the Iphigenia problem: In it, Iphigenia finds the final confirmation for her belief in the Gods and their intention to help those of good will. It also strengthens her characteristic trait to tell the truth at all cost. Only thus is she able to take the stand she does take in the fifth act. By her example, she forces Thoas, in turn, to take a similarly noble attitude, thus ensuring the happy ending. The thesis then discusses various interpretations of the healing-process, stressing the point that there are, basically, only two schools of thought: One which holds that Iphigenia's influence, her "humaneness", is solely responsible, the other which believes in a merciful intervention from the Gods. With the advent of Freud's teachings, both schools sought to incorporate the psychological element into their concepts. Whereas the followers of the humane idea held that Iphigenia acted much like a psychiatrist -- with Orestes being healed after unburdening his soul to the confidence inspiring sister -- the believers of the religious theory spoke of a God-given sleep in which Orestes is granted salvation. The thesis finally deals with the fact that present day interpretations attempt to combine the two theories. It was sought to show this tendency to be in keeping with the general trend in the scholarly exploration of literature towards a more scientific approach and fewer personal, and consequently subjective, opinions.