Earth Spirit (play)
Earth Spirit (1895) (Erdgeist) is a
In the original manuscript, dating from 1894, the ‘Lulu’ drama was in five acts and subtitled ‘A Monster Tragedy’. Wedekind subsequently divided the work into two plays: Earth Spirit (German: Erdgeist, first printed 1895) and
In a Prologue, the characters in the drama are introduced by an ‘Animal Tamer’ as if they are creatures in a travelling circus. Lulu herself is described as “the true animal, the wild, beautiful animal” and the “primal form of woman”.
When the action of the play starts, Lulu has been rescued by the rich newspaper publisher Dr Schön from a life on the streets with her alleged father, the petty criminal Schigolch. Dr Schön has taken Lulu under his wing, educated her and made her his lover. Wishing however to make a more socially advantageous match for himself, he has married her off to the medic Dr Goll.
In the first Act Dr Goll has brought Lulu to have her portrait painted by Schwarz. Left alone with him, Lulu seduces the painter. When Dr Goll returns to confront them, he collapses with a fatal heart attack.
In Act Two, Lulu has married the painter Schwarz, who, with Schön’s assistance, has now achieved fame and wealth. She remains Schön’s mistress, however. Wishing to be rid of her ahead of his forthcoming marriage to a society belle, Charlotte von Zarnikow, Schön informs Schwarz about her dissolute past. Schwarz is shocked to the core and “guillotines” himself with his razor.
In Act Three Lulu appears as a dancer in a revue, her new career promoted by Schön’s son Alwa, who is now also infatuated with her. Dr Schön is forced to admit that he is in her thrall. Lulu forces him to break off his engagement to Charlotte.
In Act Four Lulu is now married to Dr Schön but is unfaithful to him with several other people (Schigolch, Alwa, the circus artist Rodrigo Quast and the lesbian Countess Geschwitz). On discovering this, Schön presses a revolver into her hand, urging her to kill herself. Instead, she uses it to shoot Schön, all the while declaring him the only man she has ever loved. She is imprisoned for her crime.
Her escape from prison with the aid of Countess Geschwitz and subsequent career down to her death at the hands of