A Children's Tragedy Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. According to the summary in the introduction, what will happen to Melchior?

Melchior will be held responsible for the suicide of his best friend, Moritz. In response, he is expelled from his current school and sent to a reformatory. He realizes after escaping from the reformatory that his friend Wendla has died, and he considers suicide. Instead, a mysterious masked man leads him away, presumably to lead him through growing up.

2. Why is this play described as "coming-of-age?"

This play is considered "coming-of-age" because the central character, Melchior, is a teenager who wrestles with questions such as morality and existence. He is taken through a journey of sex and death, only to emerge relatively unscathed, but with a mature standpoint and a definite stance on where his life needs to go.

3. Why was this play frequently repressed after the initial publication?

This play was frequently censored upon publication because of its graphic depiction of teenagers talking about and actually having sex. People considered it immoral and obscene, forcing Wedekind to have to pay for the play to be printed. Even when it was finally performed, it was heavily censored.

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