TIERSYMBOLE IM REALISMUS. DIE SCHWARZE SPINNE, DER SCHIMMELREITER UND EFFI BRIEST ALS BEISPIELE DER CHIFFRIERTEN WIRKLICHKEIT DES 19. JAHRHUNDERTS
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This thesis analyses the role of animal symbolism as a reflection on the zeitgeist of the 19th century. The three works Die schwarze Spinne (1842) by Jeremias Gotthelf, Der Schimmelreiter (1888) by Theodor Storm and Effi Briest (1895) by Theodor Fontane show how animals are used to convey what the stylistic restrictions of the epoch do otherwise not allow for. The first chapter analyses the animal image of the “black spider.” The picture is a powerful tool to highlight patriarchal fear, local legends and beliefs of a small community in contemporaneous Switzerland. The second chapter represents the allusions of animals such as a horse or a cat, which represent suppressed human motions. Used in this way, they express the pessimism and alienation of humankind that is read as social criticism. The third chapter demonstrates an example of the virtuous character of a dog through which the deep crisis of the society and humanity at that time is mirrored. The use of the animal figures in Realism proves a deep connection of humankind to nature. The imagery generates new perspectives on the crisis of the era, for which religious dilemmas, isolation and alienation of the individual in society are characteristic.