Rolf Hochhuth's interpretation of history, and its effect on the content, form and reception of his dramatic work
This thesis attempts to account for the diversity and occasional inconsistency that characterise Rolf Hochhuth's theoretical essays and plays. Initially, the nature and extent of several philosophical, historical and literary influences upon Hochhuth are discussed in order to build up a broad picture of the author's concept of historical events and the individual's role in them. A selection of plays is presented in the light of these findings. They include the much-discussed earlier plays, directly concerned with history and its presentation, and later works within which Hochhuth speculates about a possible future. Parallels are drawn between the arguments presented in these plays and those ideas which he has elucidated in his theoretical work. Hochhuth's fluctuating and eclectic choice of dramatic structure is then examined as a possible consequence of the diversity of these same ideas. A new area of interest is seen to emerge in Hochhuth's writing during the 1970s in a series of plays about women. His theories - and questions - concerning history are again viewed as the motivation for these works, and their reflection in the contentand structure of Lysistrate und die Hato and Judith illustrated in detail. The thesis establishes the uncertain and speculative nature of Hochhuth's attitude to history. In the context of a brief discussion of the reception of his plays, therefore, a final chapter indicates the dangers of adopting a narrow ideological perspective when approaching Hochhuth's work. This may have the effect of highlighting the author's failings, and produce a negative overall evaluation. A broader perspective which does justice to the diverse arguments and questions explored in his writing would seem to offer a more fruitful approach to Rolf Hochhuth.