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Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller Friedrich Schiller[2†]

Friedrich Schiller, born on November 10, 1759, in Marbach, Württemberg, Germany, was a prominent German dramatist, poet, and literary theorist. Notable for works like "Die Räuber," "Wallenstein" trilogy, and "Wilhelm Tell," Schiller's impact on German literature is profound. Beyond Germany, he ranked as Europe's second most important playwright after Shakespeare. His themes of power, freedom, and individuality resonate in his works, shaped by his upbringing under a tyrant's rule. "Die Räuber" reflects his protest against societal corruption[1†][2†][3†].

Early Years and Education

Friedrich Schiller was born on November 10, 1759, in Marbach, Württemberg, Germany[1†][3†]. He was the second child of Lieutenant Johann Kaspar Schiller and his wife, Dorothea[1†]. After Johann Kaspar retired from military service, he devoted himself to horticulture and was appointed superintendent of the gardens and plantations at Ludwigsburg, the residence of Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg[1†].

Schiller received a sound grammar school education until the age of 13[1†]. However, in deference to what amounted to a command from his despotic sovereign, Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg, his father reluctantly agreed to send him to the Military Academy (the Karlsschule), an institution founded and personally supervised by the Duke[1†]. Against the wishes of his parents, who had hoped to have their son trained for the ministry, the Duke decreed that young Friedrich was to prepare for the study of law[1†]. Later, however, he was allowed to transfer to medicine[1†][4†].

Having endured the irksome regimentation at the academy for eight years, Schiller left to take up an appointment as an assistant medical officer to a Stuttgart regiment[1†]. His adolescence under the rule of a petty tyrant confronted Schiller with the problem of the use and abuse of power, a theme that recurs in most of his plays[1†]. His resentment found expression in some of his early poems and especially in his first play, “Die Räuber”, a stirring protest against stifling convention and corruption in high places[1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Friedrich Schiller’s career began with his first play, “Die Räuber” (The Robbers), which he wrote while still in school[3†]. The play was published in 1781 and opened in Germany the following year[3†]. It was primarily about a conflict between two brothers and was a stirring protest against stifling convention and corruption in high places[3†][1†].

After leaving the academy, Schiller worked as a regimental physician[3†][5†]. However, he later quit this position to watch the opening of one of his plays[3†]. Despite growing up in a very poor environment, Schiller managed to get the support of a wealthy duke that enabled him to study medicine[3†][5†].

In 1789, Schiller became a professor of History and Philosophy at Jena, where he wrote historical works[3†][6†]. During this time, he formed an intimate and close friendship with the famous writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe[3†]. Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish many of his incomplete works, and their discussions led to the creation of what came to be known as 'Weimar Classicism’[3†]. They also worked on the collection of satirical poems titled, ‘Xenien’[3†].

Schiller is best remembered for his significant contributions to literature, including dramas such as “Die Räuber” (The Robbers), the “Wallenstein” trilogy, “Maria Stuart”, and "Wilhelm Tell"[3†][1†]. His works have had a profound impact on German literature, and he is considered by most Germans to be the country’s most important classical playwright[3†].

Schiller’s influence extended beyond his native Germany. He was voted by a Franco-German TV network as ‘the second most important playwright in Europe after William Shakespeare’[3†]. His works continue to be celebrated for their exploration of power, freedom, and individuality.

First Publication of His Main Works

Friedrich Schiller’s literary career was marked by a series of remarkable works that have left an indelible mark on German literature. Here are some of his main works along with the year of their first publication[7†]:

Each of these works represents a significant milestone in Schiller’s career and contributes to his legacy as a leading figure in German literature. His plays and poems often dealt with themes of freedom, love, and the struggle for justice[7†][2†][1†]. His ability to combine intellectual depth with emotional intensity made his works resonate with audiences, making him a beloved figure in German literature[7†][2†][1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Friedrich Schiller’s work is characterized by a deep understanding of human nature, which he masterfully portrayed in his plays and poems[8†][9†]. His writings often dealt with themes of freedom, love, and the struggle for justice[8†][9†]. His ability to combine intellectual depth with emotional intensity made his works resonate with audiences, making him a beloved figure in German literature[8†][9†].

Schiller’s work spans two literary periods, Sturm und Drang and classicism, and it paves the way for a third, Romanticism[8†]. At the same time, his work clearly has ties to the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on the perfectibility of humankind[8†]. In Schiller’s work, German idealism attained its highest form[8†]. The lonely poet who wrote from his sickbed, however, never lost sight of the wishes of his audience[8†].

Schiller equated the concept of patriotism with such ideals as truth, beauty, nobility, love, freedom, and immortality[8†]. His plays, showing his dialectical consciousness, express the struggle between reality and the ideal[8†]. His heroes are larger than life, their struggles overshadowing their time[8†].

Schiller’s philosophy views each person as a member of the community and art as the primary force of civilization[8†][9†]. He places large demands on the artist in society, and rather than viewing that individual as a mere entertainer, he exalts him or her as a leader[8†][9†].

Personal Life

Friedrich Schiller was born on November 10, 1759, in Marbach, Württemberg, Germany[1†][2†]. His father, Johann Kaspar Schiller, was a military doctor, and his mother, Elisabetha Dorothea Schiller, was the daughter of an innkeeper[1†][10†]. He was the only son in the family, and they also had five daughters[1†][2†].

Schiller grew up in a devoutly Protestant family[1†][2†][6†]. Initially, he intended to become a priest, but his plans changed when he entered a military academy in Stuttgart in 1773[1†][2†][6†]. He ended up studying medicine, and during this time, he wrote his first play, “The Robbers,” which proved to be very successful[1†][2†][6†].

In his personal life, Schiller was known to be a romantic. He eventually married Charlotte von Lengefeld and had four children with her[1†][11†]. His love for Charlotte was evident in his letters, where he expressed a desire for them to live only in each other[1†][11†].

Schiller’s personal life was deeply intertwined with his professional life. His friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, another famous and influential German writer, was particularly significant[1†][2†]. They frequently discussed issues concerning aesthetics, and Schiller encouraged Goethe to finish works that he had left as sketches[1†][2†]. This relationship and these discussions led to a period now referred to as Weimar Classicism[1†][2†].

Schiller died on May 9, 1805, in Weimar, Saxe-Weimar[1†][2†]. His legacy continues to influence German literature and beyond[1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Friedrich Schiller’s legacy is profound and far-reaching. He is considered by most Germans to be Germany’s most important classical playwright[2†]. His works, shaped by his thoughts of freedom and republican pathos, had a great impact on people[2†][12†]. His lectures at the University of Jena, which he began giving in 1789, were packed, and his historical books were regarded as a scientific sensation[2†][12†].

Schiller was already a legend in his lifetime[2†][12†]. His plays and writings have withstood the trials of revolution and continue to be classics[2†][12†]. His name is still present in nearly every town in Germany, with countless schools, streets, and plazas named after him[2†][12†].

Schiller’s legacy has been used in the name of everything from revolution to National Socialism[2†][12†]. He was seen by many as a role model for resistance against ruling absolutism and was a symbol for people who strived for national unification[2†][12†]. His poem “Ode to Joy,” which praises freedom, unity, and the brotherhood of all mankind, found its home in the labor movement[2†][12†].

Schiller’s influence extended beyond his own time, with his works continuing to be celebrated and studied in contemporary times[2†]. His legacy continues to influence German literature and beyond[2†][12†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Friedrich Schiller: German writer [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Friedrich Schiller [website] - link
  3. The Famous People - Friedrich Schiller Biography [website] - link
  4. eNotes - Friedrich Schiller Biography [website] - link
  5. IMDb - Friedrich Schiller - Biography [website] - link
  6. Wikiwand - Friedrich Schiller - Wikiwand [website] - link
  7. Simple Wikipedia (English) - Friedrich Schiller [website] - link
  8. eNotes - Friedrich Schiller Analysis [website] - link
  9. eNotes - Friedrich Schiller World Literature Analysis [website] - link
  10. Deutsche Welle - The Sorrows of Young Schiller – DW – 05/09/2005 [website] - link
  11. The Guardian - Friedrich von Schiller: the Romantic lover [website] - link
  12. Deutsche Welle - Literary legacy – DW – 11/10/2009 [website] - link
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