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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 414 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 03.
of the Parricide episode in the Fifth Act, to the alleged unnaturalness of Tell’s long speeches and to the ignoble nature of his assault upon Gessler from ambush.  The last was given the poet in the legend of Tell, which in general he took over with pious reverence as authentic history.  The Parricide episode was introduced, partly because it was actually there in history and helped to complete the victory of the peasants’ cause, partly in order to give a better color to Tell’s own act, as being less prompted by selfish considerations.  The criticism of Tell’s speeches, whether his pithy, epigrammatic sentences in Act I, Scenes 1 and 3, and elsewhere, or his long monologue in Act IV, Scene 3, applies to the whole constitution of the conventional stage with just as much validity against Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Hamlet as against William Tell.  True, it is not plausible that Tell recited 100 lines of beautiful poetry while lying in wait for Gessler; neither is it likely that Prince Hamlet talked to himself in pentameters.

In general this play is more objective than Schiller’s other plays, and this was a quality which he admired in Goethe’s work and strove for in his own.  Despite the technical criticisms, we find that the play is filled with beautiful descriptions and noble sentiments nobly expressed.  On the stage most of the scenes are exceedingly fascinating and effective.  These beauties are quite sufficient to hide the lack of unity, and the total effect with the majority of the people is a high esthetic and ethical gratification.  The play has remained one of the most popular pieces on the German stage and has had an incalculable effect in the cultivation of national feeling.

* * * * *

WILLIAM TELL

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

HERMANN GESSLER, Governor of Schwytz and Uri.

WERNER, Baron of Attinghausen, free noble of Switzerland.

ULRICH VON RUDENZ, his Nephew.

WERNER STAUFFACHER, }
CONRAD HUNN, }
HANS AUF DER MAUER, }
JORG IM HOFE, } People of Schwytz
ULRICH DER SCHMIDT, }
JOST VON WEILER, }
ITEL REDING, }

WALTER FUeRST,
WILLIAM TELL, }
ROeSSELMANN, the Priest,}
PETERMANN, Sacristan, } of Uri
KUONI, Herdsman, }
WERNI, Huntsman, }
RUODI, Fisherman, }

ARNOLD OF MELCHTHAL,
CONRAD BAUMGARTEN, }
MEYER VON SARNEN, }
STRUTH VON WINKELRIED, } of Unterwald
KLAUS VON DER FLUE, }
BURKHART AM BUHEL, }
ARNOLD VON SEWA, }

PFEIFFER OF LUCERNE.

KUNZ OF GERSAU.

JENNI, Fisherman’s son.

SEPPI, Herdsman’s son.

GERTRUDE, Stauffacher’s wife.

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