'Traumnovelle' - A Dreamlike Challenge for Love?

Seminar Paper, 2000

12 Pages, Grade: 1,00



I. Introduction

II. Fridolin’s way from “real perfect harmony” to an imperfect “dream”

III. Similarities and differences in the couple’s reactions to the challenge

IV. The overcoming of the crisis

V. Summary

VI. Bibliography

I. Introduction

Considering the individual expressions of this essay’s title, their meaning pretends to be self-explanatory. Nevertheless, definitions of the significant terms seem to be necessary in order to be clear about their function regarding the interpretation.

Firstly, the word “dream” will be defined – regarding the protagonists’ condition – as a “series of images, events and feelings that happen in your mind while you are asleep”[1] as well as a phrase that “impliziert alles, was einer traumähnlichen Irrealität und einer Art Zwischenreich entspricht”[2]. Moreover, “Traum” means “a wish to have or be [something], especially one that seems difficult to achieve”[3]. In other words, this designation can (and will) be used not only to express (almost unachievable) desires, but also the situation, in which wishes might be granted.

Secondly, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has defined the term “novel” as “eine sich ereignete, unerhörte Begebenheit”[4] – concerning “Traumnovelle“, this statement may apply to the test for Fridolin’s and Albertine’s relationship.

In section II, I will present the causes of the disturbance of the harmony, Fridolin’s reaction to his wife’s confession of her secret desires, and the handling of his emotions. Thereupon, section III reveals parallels and inequalities regarding the couple’s experiences. Finally, this survey attempts to point out the (literal and figurative) return to the conventional state.

II. Fridolin’s way from “real perfect harmony” to an imperfect “dream”

In order to assess the importance of the challenge in the marriage of Fridolin and Albertine, it is necessary to sketch out the course of the test beginning with the ground for its origins and leading to Fridolin’s handling of this unfamiliar situation that confronts him with hitherto unknown emotions and experiences.

“Traumnovelle” starts with a description of a seemingly perfect relationship: “[D]ie Hände der Eltern [trafen sich] auf der geliebten Stirn, und mit zärtlichem Lächeln, das nun nicht mehr dem Kinde allein galt, begegneten sich ihre Blicke.”[5] Even in the fourth paragraph of the novel, however, the image of complete harmony becomes untenable, their “innere Bezeihung [ist] unter dem trügerischen Schleier eines äusserlich verträglichen Miteinanders brüchig geworden“[6]. Although the couple has abandoned the idea of beginning affairs with other visitors of the “Redoute”, they remember their experiences as “versäumte[…] Möglichkeiten”[7]. As each of them perceives the lack of entire sincerity in the other’s words, they play around with their trust in each other and verbalize memories as well as concealed desires:[8]

[A]us dem leichten Geplauder über die nichtigen Abenteuer der verflossenen Nacht gerieten sie in ein ernsteres Gespräch über jene verborgenen, kaum geahnten Wünsche, die auch in die klarste und reinste Seele trübe und gefährliche Wirbel zu reißen vermögen, und sie redeten von den geheimen Bezirken, nach denen sie kaum Sehnsucht verspürten und wohin der unfassbare Wind des Schicksals sie doch einmal, und wär’s auch nur im Traum, verschlagen könnte.[9]

The confessions about their unconscious wishes affects both spouses, and jealousy emerges.[10] They seem to be willing to discuss this matter, but the message of the dying “Hofrat” prevents a settle and the final Catharsis[11]. I 53, S 14

Fridolin, preoccupied with his wife’s disclosure[12], further and further drifts away from reality into a dreamlike state. In other words, he journeys from controllable and clear rationality to an ungovernable and undefined “dreamworld”[13]: “[S]eit dem Abendgespräch mit Albertine rückte er immer weiter fort aus dem gewohnten Bezirk seines Daseins in irgendeine andere, ferne, fremde Welt.“[14]


[1] Wehmeier Dictionary, p. 383.

[2] Imboden Werk, p. 59.

[3] Wehmeier Dictionary, p. 383.

[4] Goethe to Eckermann, 29 January, 1827, in E. K. Bennett: A History of the German Novelle . From Goethe to Thomas Mann (Cambridge: University Press 1934), p. 9.

[5] Schnitzler Traumnovelle, p. 7.

[6] Imboden Werk, p. 52.

[7] Schnitzler Traumnovelle, p. 8.

[8] See Imboden Werk, p. 52.

[9] Schnitzler Traumnovelle, p. 9.

[10] Fridolin wants to kill the Danish man with whom his wife fell in love on holiday: “Oh, eine wahre Wonne wäre es, dem irgendwo in einer Waldlichtung gegenüberzustehen und auf die Stirn mit dem glattgestrichenen Blondhaar den Lauf einer Pistole zu richten”. Ibid., p. 23.

[11] This term is defined as “releasing and providing relief from strong emotions”. Wehmeier Dictionary, p. 1527.

[12] Presumably, Fridolin’s pride is hurt, too, when he hears that he is not the one and only man in her life. Schnitzler Traumnovelle, p. 14.

[13] See Imboden Werk, p. 54.

[14] Schnitzler Traumnovelle, p. 27.

Excerpt out of 12 pages


'Traumnovelle' - A Dreamlike Challenge for Love?
University of Sussex
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
419 KB
Traumnovelle, Arthur Schnitzler, Traum, Novelle
Quote paper
Marion Luger (Author), 2000, 'Traumnovelle' - A Dreamlike Challenge for Love?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/134835


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