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    Excerpts from Goethe

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is a curious case. He lived from 1749 to 1832 and is undoubtedly Germany's most famous literary figure. Well known for his enlightenment ideals and progressive views on many subjects, he also famously wrote a great deal about the angst and elation of love. Flip through a volume of his poetry and you will most likely land on a flowery piece celebrating love with fevered enthusiasm. Almost always in Goethe we find rapturous celebration of women and femininity.

    Yet a man as intelligent and multi-faceted as Goethe could not remain ignorant to the true nature of women after all his musings and research on the subject (not to mention his experiences). From time to time the truth slips through the cracks, only in such a way that it could be taken ambiguously, coming from a character in a work, being overcome by the progress of the work or an eventual refocusing which appears to render it irrelevant.

    This thread is dedicated to excerpts from Goethe that can be interpreted in a way which shows an alternative perspective to the common narrative of his views on women known so well to the reader even prior to opening a volume. Please feel free to post your own excerpts in this vein.

    I will start with some passages from Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, first published in 1795/1796, providing some context where necessary. (the full text of which can be found here in an English translation):

    “Devil take all wanton jilts!” cried the old man, with a splenetic tone, “and especially this one, that has
    spoiled me so many hours of my life! Why should I keep talking how I myself took charge of her, what I
    did for her, what I spent on her, how in absence I provided for her? I would rather throw my purse into
    the ditch, and spend my time in nursing mangy whelps, than ever more bestow the smallest care on such
    a thing. Pshaw! at first I got letters of thanks, notice of places she was staying at; and, finally, no word at
    all, not even an acknowledgment for the money I had sent to pay the expenses of her lying-in. O! the
    treachery and the fickleness of women are rightly matched, to get a comfortable living for themselves,
    and to give an honest fellow many heavy hours.”
    - (from page 71 in the above linked text)

    This passage refers to Mariana, a member of a travelling theatre company who got knocked up and kicked out of the company by the manager. 'Old Boisterous', an actor in the company who had been a de facto father figure to Mariana, is the speaker in the passage.

    It vexed me that he did not look upon the matter as already serious; and I asked him, with an air of
    pique, what he meant by serious. I had not to repeat the question; he explained himself so clearly, that I
    could scarcely hide my terror. Yet, as anger came along with it, as I took it ill that he should entertain
    such thoughts, I kept myself composed; I tried to justify my nymph; and said with glowing cheeks: “But,
    sir, Phyllis is an honourable girl.”

    He was rogue enough to banter me about my honourable heroine. While we were speaking French, he
    played upon the word honnête, and hunted the honourableness of Phyllis over all its meanings. I felt the
    ridicule of this, and was extremely puzzled. He, not to frighten me, broke off; but afterwards often led the
    conversation to such topics. Plays and little histories, such as I was reading and translating with him,
    gave him frequent opportunity to show how feeble a security against the calls of inclination our boasted
    virtue was. I no longer contradicted him; but I was in secret scandalised; and his remarks became a
    burden to me.
    My honest Mentor still continued, in a modest and yet striking way, to warn me; and I in secret to take
    it ill of him. With regard to his assertion, that women under every circumstance were weak, I did not feel
    at all convinced; and here perhaps I was in the right, and my Mentor in the wrong; but he spoke so
    earnestly, that once I grew afraid he might be right, and said to him, with much vivacity: “Since the
    danger is so great, and the human heart so weak, I will pray to God that He may keep me.”
    - (from pages 207-8 in the above linked text)

    Here we see a classic blue pill reaction to being force fed the red pill.

    “But still higher was my pleasure, when I heard him talk, one evening, about women. The subject
    happened to be introduced; some ladies of the neighbourhood had come to see us; and were speaking, in
    the common style, about the cultivation of the female mind. Our sex, they said, was treated unjustly;
    every sort of higher education men insisted on retaining for themselves: they admitted us to no science,
    they required us either to be dolls or family drudges. To all this Lothario said not much: but when the
    party was a little thinned, he gave us his opinion more explicitly. ‘It is very strange,’ cried he, ‘that men
    are blamed for their proceeding here: they have placed woman on the highest station she is capable of
    occupying. And where is there any station higher than the ordering of the house? While the husband has
    to vex himself with outward matters, while he has wealth to gather and secure, while perhaps he takes
    part in the administration of the state, and everywhere depends on circumstances; ruling nothing, I may
    say, while he conceives that he is ruling much; compelled to be but politic where he would willingly be
    reasonable, to dissemble where he would be open, to be false where he would be upright; while thus, for
    the sake of an object which he never reaches, he must every moment sacrifice the first of objects,
    harmony with himself,—a reasonable housewife is actually governing in the interior of her family; has
    the comfort and activity of every person in it to provide for, and make possible. What is the highest
    happiness of mortals, if not to execute what we consider right and good; to be really masters of the means
    conducive to our aims? And where should or can our nearest aims be, but in the interior of our home? All
    those indispensable, and still to be renewed supplies, where do we expect, do we require to find them, if
    not in the place where we rise and where we go to sleep, where kitchen and cellar, and every species of
    accommodation for ourselves and ours is to be always ready? What unvarying activity is needed to
    conduct this constantly recurring series in unbroken living order! How few are the men, to whom it is
    given to return regularly like a star, to command their day as they command their night; to form for
    themselves their household instruments, to sow and to reap, to gain and to expend, and to travel round
    their circle with perpetual success and peace and love! It is when a woman has attained this inward
    mastery, that she truly makes the husband whom she loves a master: her attention will acquire all sorts of
    knowledge; her activity will turn them all to profit. Thus is she dependent upon no one; and she procures
    her husband genuine independence, that which is interior and domestic: whatever he possesses, he
    beholds secured; what he earns, well employed; and thus he can direct his mind to lofty objects, and if
    fortune favours, he may act in the state the same character which so well becomes his wife at home.’
    - (from page 254 in the above linked text)

    This passage is a virtual summary of the myth of male power.

    Last edited by Bricklayer; July 10, 2014 at 3:24 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: Excerpts from Goethe

    War .. war never changes.

    Damnit ..pardon

    Women .. women never change

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