The dramatic illusion in the theory and later plays of Friedrich Schiller
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Statements in Schiller's early essays seem to suggest that he adhered to the view of the dramatic illusion as a temporary escape from reality, an experience in which the spectator is encouraged to forget that he is in the theatre and be caught up in a deceptive and convincing illusion. Analysis of Schiller's dramatic and aesthetic theory and of his correspondence from 1790 onwards, however, shows that the ideas of moral freedom, aesthetic harmony and of the autonomy of art led Schiller to reject the ideal of convincing illusion which was current and popular in his time. In its place he wished to encourage awareness of the illusory nature of the stage action and drama which was obviously different from everyday reality in its subject matter and style. Analysis of Schiller's plays from Wallenstein to Wilhelm Tell shows that Schiller aimed at illusion of this type in his own practice. With reference to the dramatic illusion, Schiller's views actually come close to those of Brecht, in spite of statements to the contrary in Brecht's Kleines Organon für das Theater. The detailed analysis of Schiller's theory and of his later plays is preceded firstly by a chapter on problems associated with the topic of the dramatic illusion. Secondly, a background chapter considers influential developments in drama, dramatic theory and in aesthetics from the origins of western drama in Greek classical tragedy to the theatre of Schiller's time, to establish possible influences on Schiller or similarities between his views and existing traditions, and to suggest Schiller's position with regard to his contemporaries and to the historical development of the dramatic illusion.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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