Download Apprenticeships: The Bildungsroman from Goethe to Santayana by Thomas L. Jeffers (auth.) PDF

By Thomas L. Jeffers (auth.)

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Extra info for Apprenticeships: The Bildungsroman from Goethe to Santayana

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How close this is to Shakespeare’s dramatic poem isn’t the question. Wilhelm sees in Hamlet what he sees in himself: indecision, intellectualism, and an interest in the theater. More importantly, he wants to believe there is a “fate” that has ordered him to become an actor, and that can therefore be held responsible for his having defied his father. His streamlining of the play—eliminating Fortinbras, the active prince who represents what Hamlet himself in happier times might have been, and the mission to England, wherein Hamlet outfoxes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern—may overemphasize Hamlet’s passivity, but it also serves to purge Wilhelm of his own.

Here more romantic than classic, he concurs with Rousseau’s belief in the soundness of all human faculties, and in the unconscious’ ability to tell the difference between long- not just short-term satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Given the requisite amount of freedom, time, and luck, the unconscious can through trial and error find its own proper path to gratification. Thus in defiance of the super-egoistic, repressive voice of his father, Wilhelm’s unconscious, hungering for a return to playing with the puppets of his childhood and vaguely seeking the erotic excitement that might be found outside the home, pricks him into the theater.

The Tower has let him wander, but never completely: the Strangers have entered to give him little lectures, Jarno has put him onto Shakespeare, the Ghost has urged him (all cryptically) to “FLY . . ” And at the end, everyone conspires to provide him with a wife, a job, and the support of the brotherhood itself. When in turn he comes to the problem of educating his son Felix, he plainly intends to be even more directive. 80)—or in his bad table manners. He needs to be civilized. That is why, in the Wanderjahre, Wilhelm places him under the care of the Pedagogic Utopians, who don’t privately tutor him, as the Abbé would, but put him into a community where the value of rules of behavior is immediately obvious, and where everyone receives “religious instruction” in reverence for the earth, for God, and for humanity—reverence that, since nobody is born with it (it is different from compassion), must be inculcated.

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