First edition, 1781
( ) was the first drama
by German playwright Friedrich Schiller
. The play was published
in 1781 and premiered on January 13, 1782 in Mannheim, Germany.
was written towards the end of the German Sturm und Drang
("Storm and Stress")
movement and has been considered by many critics, such as Peter Brooks
, to have influenced the
development of European melodrama
play astounded its Mannheim audience and made Schiller an overnight
sensation. It later became the basis for Verdi
same name, I masnadieri
The plot revolves around the conflict
between two aristocratic brothers, Karl and Franz Moor. The
charismatic but rebellious student Karl is deeply loved by his
father. The younger brother, Franz, who appears as a cold,
calculating villain, plots to wrest away Karl's inheritance. As the
play unfolds, both Franz's motives and Karl's innocence and heroism
are revealed to be complex. It is believed that the The Robbers
was loosely based on real-life Johann von Christophe Käsebier (who
was trained as a tailor by his father, and
whose son became Count of
Wittgenstein's personal tailor) and Christian Andreas Käsebier
(who was a notorious 18th Century German crime boss who was
eventually sent to a Polish prison).
Schiller's highly emotional language and his depiction of physical
violence mark the play as a quintessential Sturm und Drang
work. At the same time,
the play utilizes a traditional five act
structure, with each act containing two to
. The play uses
alternating scenes to pit the brothers against each other, as one
quests for money and power, while the other attempts to create a
revolutionary anarchy in the Bohemian Forest.
Schiller raises many disturbing issues in
the play. For instance, he questions the dividing lines between
personal liberty and the law and probes the psychology of power,
the nature of masculinity and the essential differences between
good and evil. He strongly criticizes both the hypocrisies of class
and religion and the economic inequities of German society. He also
conducts a complicated inquiry into the nature of evil.
Playbill of Würzburg performance,
- Maximilian, Count von Moor (also called "Old
Moor") is the beloved father of Karl and Franz. He is a good person
at heart, but also weak, and has failed to raise his two sons
properly. He bears responsibility for the perversion of the Moor
family, which has caused the family's values to become invalidated.
The Moor family acts as an analogy of state, a typical political criticism of
Schiller's. The prince as a father of the nation is
- Karl (Charles) Moor, his older son, is a
self-confident idealist. He is good-looking and well-liked by all.
His emotions and impulses are rather feminine in nature (his
feelings of deep love for Amalia, his general melancholy etc).
Together with his gang of robbers, he fights against the unfairness
and corruption of the feudal authorities. In doing so, he becomes a
disgraceful criminal and murderous arsonist, all while believing
that his father has banished him from his home after supposedly
disgracing their family name. He loves Amalia and his offended
homeland deludes itself. This despair leads to the urge to express
and discover new goals and directions, and to realize his ideals
and dreams of heroes. He breaks the law, for as he says, "the end
justifies the means." He develops a close connection with his
robbers, especially to Roller and Schweizer, but recognizes the
unscrupulousness and dishonor of Spiegelberg and his other
associates. Amalia creates a deep internal twist in the plot and in
Karl's persona. He swore allegiance to the robbers after Schweizer
and Roller died for his sake, and he promised that he would never
separate from his men, so cannot return to Amalia. In deep
desperation due to the death of his father, he eventually kills his
true love and decides to turn himself in to the law.
- Franz Moor, his younger son, is an egoistic
rationalist and materialist. He is cold hearted and callous, but
not pure evil.. He is rather ugly and unpopular, as opposed to his
brother Karl, but quite intelligent and cunning. However, since his
father loved only his brother and not him, he developed a lack of
feeling, which made the "sinful world" intolerable for his
passions, and he consequently fixed himself to a rationalistic way
of thinking. In the character of Franz, Schiller demonstrates what
could happen if the moral way of thinking was replaced by the pure
rationalization. Franz strives for power in order to be able to
implement his interests.
- Amalia von Edelreich, his niece is Karl's love
and is a faithful and reliable person (to learn more of their
relationship see "Hektorlied").
- Spiegelberg acts as an opponent of Karl Moor
and is driven by crime. Additionally, he self-nominated himself to
be captain in Karl's robber band, yet was passed up in favor of
Karl. Spiegelberg tries to portray Karl negatively among the
robbers in order to become the captain, but does not succeed.
- Herrmann, the natural son of a Nobleman.
- Daniel, an old servant of Count von Moor.
- Pastor Moser
- A Monk.
- Band of robbers, servants, etc.