Wozzeck Synopsis

Wozzeck Synopsis

Act I
Scene i
The Captain’s room
Wozzeck is a soldier who earns extra money by shaving the Captain, who is philosophizing about time and eternity. While shaving, the Captain lectures him on immorality because Wozzeck has a child without the church’s blessing. Wozzeck’s apologetic answer is that the poor and unfortunate cannot allow themselves the morality of the rich.

Scene ii
An open field
Wozzeck and his friend Andres are cutting hazel sticks. Wozzeck has apocalyptic hallucinations and Andres is trying to cheer him up by singing.

Scene iii
Marie’s room
Marie, the woman Wozzeck is living with and who is also the mother of his child, and her neighbor Margaret, admire the soldiers marching by. Marie is waving the Drum Major, and Margaret, who notices that, teases her of having a child but no husband. Wozzeck calls in briefly, doesn’t even look at his child and leaves. Mary is left in her solitude and despair.

Scene iv
The Doctor’s study
The Doctor pays Wozzeck a small amount of money for his participating in his dietary experiments, in which he has to eat only pees. Wozzeck broke his promise when he urinated, and the Doctor rejects his explanations that he was forced to do it by nature. When Wozzeck tells the Doctor of his hallucinations, the Doctor admires his “beautiful perversion”. The Doctor only hopes to win worldwide fame from the results of the experiments he does on Wozzeck.

Scene v
The street in front of Marie’s house
Marie talks with the Drum Major as he tries to hug her. At first she resists but soon she gives in.  

Act II

Scene i
Marie’s room
Marie sings her child to sleep, as she is looking at her image in a broken mirror. She is wearing gold earrings the Drum Major gave her. When Wozzeck sees the earrings, she tells him that she found them. He is looking tenderly at the sleeping child, gives Marie some money and leaves.

Scene ii
A street in town
The Doctor and the Captain meet. The Captain is irritated by the Doctor’s haste, and the Doctor prophesies the Captain a short life. When Wozzeck passes by, they mock him, making allusions about Marie and the Drum Major. The little world that Wozzeck thinks is his is falling to pieces around him.

Scene iii
The street in front of Marie’s house
Wozzeck interrogates Marie about her relationship with the Drum Major. He tries to strike her but she won’t let him, saying: “rather a knife in me than a hand on me.”

Scene iv
A tavern
Men and women are dancing at the tavern. Wozzeck is furious when he sees Marie dancing with the Drum Major. Two drunken apprentices lecture everyone about God’s purpose in inventing mankind. Andreas tries once more to cheer up Wozzeck. The local fool tells Wozzeck that he can smell blood.

Scene 5
A guardroom in the barracks 
The soldiers are asleep at the guardroom, except Wozzeck who cannot sleep. The thought of the dance at the tavern doesn’t leave him. He is haunted by a vision of a knife. Andres tells him to go back to sleep. Wozzeck prays to be protected against temptation. The drunken Drum Major enters and starts a fight with Wozzeck, and Wozzeck is thrown on the ground. 


Act III

Scene i
Marie’s room
Marie reads in the New Testament the stories of Mary Magdalene and of an adulteress. She tells her son the tale of the child who has neither father nor mother. Wozzeck has not visited her in two days. She prays to be forgiven.

Scene ii
A path to the woods by a pond
Wozzeck and Marie go out for a walk outside the town. Wozzeck reminds Marie of the time they first met. She is full of remorse. Wozzeck asks her how long she believes she is going to live. Marie is trying to escape. After a last kiss, Wozzeck cuts her throat with a knife.

Scene iii
A tavern 
At the tavern life goes on as usual. Wozzeck, trying to forget everything, is wooing Margaret. She sees blood on his hand, and when a crowd gathers, he runs away.

Scene iv
A path to the woods by a pond
Wozzeck returns to the scene of the crime, finds the knife beside Marie’s body and throws it into the water. He follows the knife into the water, trying to make it disappear and he drowns. As the Doctor and the Captain pass by, they hear a drowning man’s moans coming from the water, but continue walking.

Scene v
The street in front of Marie’s house
Children are playing in the street and among them is Marie’s son. One of the children tells the boy that his mother has died and they all run off to see the body. The boy carries on playing. 

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