Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Paternity and Bildung in Goethe's "Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre"

by Elisabeth Krimmer
Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Paternity and Bildung in Goethe's "Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre"
Elisabeth Krimmer
The German Quarterly
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University ofCalifornia/ Davis

Ma111a's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Paternity and Bildung in Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre

I will tell you truly, stranger: in fact, my mother says I am his [Odysseus'] son, but I for my part do not know, for no one yet has known his father on his own.

Homer; The Odyssey/ 1.214-16

That thou art my son I have partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion.

Shakespeare/ Henry IV;Part LActIL Scene 4

Das Wort Vater ist ein grofsesWort, das gr6~te im Staate; wer nicht Vater ist, verdient auch den Namen Burger nicht, und, um freigebig zu seyn, nur halb den Namen Mensch."

Theodor von Hippel, "Uber die Ehe, // 4

Anxieties about paternityand patrilineal descenthavehaunted the European culturalimaginationfromHomerto Shakespeare. Althoughsuchthematiclongevity suggests metahistorical validity, hopes and doubts regarding fatherhood underwentdrastichistorical changes.Inthis article,Iarguethat theconceptofpaternitywasgreatlyaffected bythe societal, economic, andpolitical changes ofthe lateeighteenthcentury. Moreprecisely,itismyclaimthat the radicalredefinition ofgender, itselfcloselyconnectedtopoliticaland socialchangesofthetime, gave risetonewandacuteuncertainties relatingtofatherhood. Thenewgendermodel, frequentlyreferred to as "gendered character" (Geschlechtscharakter) or "two-sex model," placed a strong emphasis on the normative authority of the body. Such relianceonthe"construct-substantiating" powerofthebody (Scarry 140) served tolegitimize thedisenfranchisementofwomen,whileatthesametimedetracting fromaman's claims to paternity:since therewasnobodilyevidence forpaternity, thenormativeauthorityofthebodycouldberelied uponto strengthengenderhierarchies, but it could not confirm the tie between father and child.

The German Quarterly 77.3 (Summer 2004) 257

Inordertotracetheoriginofthelate-eighteenth-centurypatrilinealpanic, I will presenta readingofGoethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795-96). I believe that theepochalimpactofthisworkisconnectedtoitsartfulrepositioningofgender and fatherhood. But Goethe's text, though particularlyapt to exemplifythe stress on paternity; is not the only cultural artifact of the era marked by these changes. Anxietiesabout fatherhoodalsosurfacein the explorationofadoptive parenting, as it is discussed in Lessing's Nathan der ~ise (1770,see Calhoon 11) and Kleist'sDerFindling (1810),intheobsessionofmalewriterswith themotifof infanticide, prominent in a plethoraofSturm undDrang dramas,and in fantasiesof menwhogivebirthwithoutany femaleassistance, asitisparodiedinGoethe's Faust II (1832) when Wagnerreliesonhisscientific skills tocreatetheHomunculus.'

Around 1800, anxieties about patrilineal descent were not only particularly acutebut alsoparticularlythreatening.Unambiguouspaternity was considered crucialfortheexistenceoftheentire social system,not only becauseitguaranteed the transmissionofpropertyfromgenerationtogeneration,butalsobecause the eighteenth century believed in a concatenation of fatherhood, personalgrowth, and social harmony:The analogybetween paternaland civic responsibilities, asexpressed byvon Hippelin the introductory quote,was believed to beofsuchparamount importancethat itentered legalcodification.TheDeclarationofRightsof YearIII,forexample,containsthestatement that "nomanisagoodcitizenunless hebeagoodson,goodfather,goodbrother,good friend, goodhusband"( Martin35).Onemightwonderwhetherthisheightenedconcernwith therelation between fatherhood and social stability was actualized by one of the most momentous symbolic patricides in modern history; namely the execution of Louis XVIin 1793.Sincesocialhierarchieswerenolongersupportedbytranscendental truthclaimsandsincepaternitycouldnot takerecourse to biologicalevidence, the positionofthe fatherhadbecomeshaky: Effortsto fill thegaparenumerous.DuringthedraftingoftheNapoleonicCode,forexample, FirstConsulBonapartehimselfdeclaredthat itisnow"thelawthat makesfathers"(Martin 35).Wherethe law fell short, literature came to its aid.

InJohannWolfgang von Goethe'snovelWilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, the foundational text of the genre of Bildungsroman, the bond between paternity and social stability is particularly strong. Surprisingly; the reception history of Wilhelm Meister has paidlittle attention to the many ways in which the text struggles to remedyambiguitiesofpatrilinealdescent.IRather, scholarshave,forthemost part, discussed the question of Bildung only to conclude that by the end of the noveltheprotagonistexhibitsnosignsofgrowthormaturation ofanykind.One might thereforewonder whether the focuson Bildung has served to obscureand displace the troublingquestionofpaternity.Inorderto reintroducepaternityinto the discussion of theBildungsroman,3 the following sectiondiscusses the paradigmaticchangesthat ledtothe crisisofpaternityandthecountermeasuresasthey are laid out in Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre.


The second half of the eighteenth century was characterized by far-reaching cultural, social, and philosophical paradigm shifts. The normative authority of theologywas replaced by that of philosophy and science, and the unity of the ganzes Haus, i.e., thecombinationoffamilyhomeandworkshop,was dissolved as capitalismgradually became thedominantmodeofproduction. Theendeavorsof the bourgeoisie to establishitselfas a political force were accompanied by a completerestructuringofthe publicandprivatespheres. Interlacedwith thesechanges wasa radical reinterpretationofthemeaningandimplicationsofthecategoryof gender. Itisnecessaryto describethisre-conceptualizationofgenderindepthsince it hada profoundeffecton the socialvalidityof claims to paternity:

InGermanliterarycriticism, theemergingconceptofgenderisgenerallycaptured with the term Gesch/echtscharakter. According to Becker-Cantarino, the conceptofgendered characterisbasedontheclaimthat women possess "certainpsychological andmoralqualities whicharesaidto correspond to their biological disposition" ("(Sozial)geschichte" 247; seealsoDuden 23). In other words, the body prescribes how social andmoraltasksareto bedistributedbetweenthe genders (Honegger IX). In order to achieve the desired ideological effect, the concept of Gesch/echtscharakter requires a two-step process. First, a clusterof charactertraits, suchaspassivity;emotionality; andlackofindependenceisconceivedofasacoherent ensemble. The second step, then, defines these traits as inherently female by claiming that they are direct emanations of woman's nature. Dotzler notes discerninglythat thistwo-step processconstitutesanastuteattempttoshift"the subjectionof woman from the outside to the inside" (352).

Thenewassociation betweenbodyandgenderwasmade possible bya redefinition of the gendered body itself. In his study of gender constructs from the GreekstoFreud,ThomasLaqueurpostulatestheexistenceoftwodifferent models ofgenderidentity,the earlierone-sex model, andthelatertwo-sex model. Inthe one-sexmodel, thedifferencebetweenmaleand femaleisinterpretedasoneofdegree, not ofkind.Menandwomenwerenot considered tobeessentiallydifferent. Rather, thefemalebodywasseenasalessperfect, butsubstantiallyisomorphic versionofthemalebody4Inthepre-Enlightenment one-sexmodel, thephysiologicalboundarybetweenthe genderswasthoughttobe permeable, butthe social stratificationassociated with femininityand masculinitywas decidedly rigid. Social categories themselves, along with their respective tasks and cultural roles, were considered God-given and hence natural and immutable.

Laqueurclaimsthat intheeighteenthcenturythe one-sexmodelwasabandonedinfavorofabinarystructurethat definedthetwo gendersasdiscreteandincommensurable. The two-sex model was born. This change was not brought about by an increase in anatomicalor physiological knowledge, but byepistemological and political developments. In the Age of Enlightenment, references to transcendentalandtraditionalsystemsofordercouldnolongerprovide sufficient legitimation for social inequalities. As political thinkers began to question the metaphysicalfoundationsofsocietalhierarchies, thesubjectionofwoman toman could no longer be justified as divinely ordained. However, when women attempted toacton thepromiseinherentinEnlightenmentthought anddemanded that theuniversalclaimforfreedomandequalitybeextendedtothe femalegender, theireffortswere foreclosed bythenewconceptofGeschlechtscharakter. Women's bodies now became the primary anchors of woman's underprivileged position. With biology bolstering the newgenderorder, women wererelegated to houseand homewhilethe newlycreated public spherebecamethe domainofmen/'

It isevidentthat the new emphasison the (female) bodysolidified traditional genderhierarchies. Itisnotquiteasevidentthat,inputtingoutone socialfire, the heightenedimportancegivento thebodykindledanother blaze: whilethenormativeauthorityofthebody servedtoshoreupgenderhierarchies, itdidnothingto confirmthetiebetweenfatherand child.Afterall,with respecttothe body; "pater semper incertus est" [the father is always uncertain]. Thus, in the eighteenth century;paternityoperatedina void. Itcouldnolongerrelyontranscendentaltruth claimstolegitimize socialsystemsoforder, anditcouldnotyettakerecourse totoday'sscientificmethodstoprovepaternity; suchasgenetictesting.Theresulting stresson patrilineallegitimizationis visible inmany textsofthelateeighteenth andearlynineteenth centuries. It ismyclaimthat, in Wilhelm Meisters Lehriahre, thepanaceaapplied toheal,oratleast ease, thiswoundishomosocialbonding, that is,highlycathectedrelationshipsbetweenmenthat aretriangulatedthrough women and fueled by unacknowledged homoerotic desires.

Goethe's novel constitutes an extraordinarily prescient attempt to come to terms with the repercussions of the new body-gender axis. The novel abounds with cross-dressedcharacterswhoseambiguousgenderidentitybearstestimony tothefactthat Goethewasacutelyawareofthegenderrevolutionofthelateeighteenth century. Theproliferationofgenderbendersinhistextisasymptomofthe ongoingdiscursivestruggleovergenderdefinitions.After all, thecross-dresseris positionedat theintersectionoftwo competingconceptsof gender: genderasan essence that is inherent to bodies and gender as social construct constituted through the reiterationof performative acts (Butler VIII). Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre isunambiguousinits propagationofthe new modelof Geschlechtscharakter. Indeed, thenovelconjuresupthespecterofthemasculinizedwoman onlytoaffirmthat suchmasculinizationdidnottake place.Thestarkcontrastbetweenthe stereotypically female character traits of Goethe's fictitious cross-dressers and their incongruous male attire illustrates that, in Wilhelm Meister» Lehrjahre, the bodyisdefinedastheprimarysiteofaperson'sgenderidentity?However, while thisemphasisonthebodysettlesthequestionofgender, itleaveswideopenthat of paternity:the socialauthorityofthebodyguaranteesthat womenwillalwaysbe women,but itcaninnoway substantiateaman'sclaimto fatherhood. The following section traces how Goethe's novel first delineates and then proposes to solve the problemof patrilineal descent.


Numerousliterarycriticshaveexpresseddoubtsorflatlydeniedthat Wilhelm Meister, Goethe'scallowprotagonist,actuallyachievesany Bi/dung or maturity at all(Steinecke 104,Eigler 108; Jacobs82;Kontje13). Curiously; althoughthenature and success ofWilhelm'spersonaldevelopmentisverymuch inquestion,thereis little scholarly uncertainty regarding Wilhelm's fatherhood. This is surprising sinceGoethe'snovel seizeseveryopportunityto obfuscateandironizethe problemofpaternaldescent.Intheend,Wilhelmcomestoacceptthe socialobligations of paternity; but it is far from certain that he is Felix's biological father.

The firstbookofGoethe'snovelintroducesusto ayouthful Wilhelmwho is about to shedthe shacklesofhisbourgeoishomeanddevotesallhiswakinghours tohisnew-foundlove, theactressMariane.Readerslearnindirectlythatthelovers' burgeoningrelationshiphasalreadybeenconsummatedwhen Wilhelminquires ofhis beloved "obersichdennnichtVaterglaubendurfe" (44). Tellingly, theindirectandconvolutedsyntaxofWilhelm'squestionalreadyindicatesthe protagonist'sembattledpositiontoward hisown fatherhood.Theuseofthe subjunctive modecoupledwiththecarefullyphrased"glauben"insteadofthe straightforward "sein" expresses distance and uncertainty. With respect to his progeny; the male heroisplacedinapositionofdependency: hehasnochoicebut torelyonthenarrative of the prospective mother. Since fatherhood is mediated through textuality andfemininity; Mariane'srefusaltoprovidetherequirednarrativedoesnothelpto alleviate the hero'suncertainty.InsteadofconfirmingWilhelm'shopes,Mariane answershisquestionwithasighandakiss(44). Herevasionisdueto the factthat, unbeknownst toWilhelm,theactresshasalreadyrejectedhimassuitablefather material.Mariane'sconversationwithherservantBarbara reveals thatsheconsidersWilhelm,who possessesplentyofheartbut notenoughcash (46), unqualified to providefora family. Althoughtoward theendof Wi'/he/m Meisters Lehrjahre the hero's path willbecrownedbyhisfatherhood,in the beginningWilhelmisrejected as financially insufficient.

In keepingwith its initialambiguity; the novelcontinues to undermine the assumption that Wilhelm is indeed the father of Mariane's child. Although the Tower Society confirms Wilhelm's claim to Felix, readers have every reason to doubt hispaternity. ReferencestoWilhelm's"son"areoftenaccompaniedwith thequalifier"wahrscheinlich" (116).Inlooksandtemper, Felixdoesnotresemble Wilhelmat all. Thechildislivelyandblond (261) whileWilhelmisdarkandpensive (316). Moreover, the list of Felix's potential progenitors rivals that of Don Giovanni'sconquests.Atfirst,Wilhelmisledto believethat FelixisLothario'sson, buthesoonlearnsthatthisassumptioniserroneous.Later,when Barbara delivers aletter fromMariane,Wilhelmcomesto realize that hehimselfmight beFelix's father.Butthelettercontainingthelonged-forconfirmationissomewhat suspectitselfsinceit isembeddedinanarrativethat pointstoyet another fathercandidate. ShortlybeforeshemetWilhelm, MarianewasinvolvedwithNorberg,Wilhelm's wealthy rival for her affection (492). Interestingly; contemporary law provides thatMarianehaveherpickbetweenWilhelmandNorberg, sincewhoeverhadintercoursewith an unmarriedwoman210to 285daysbeforethe birth ofachild qualifiesasfather. Apossibledefensethrough exceptio p/urium concubentium, intercoursewith several partners,isexpresslyforbidden(Harms-Ziegler334).Infact, Marianewould bewithinherfulllegal rightsifshesought payment fromboth father candidates (Harms-Ziegler 337).Significantly; Norberghimselfnot only believes that he is the father of Mariane's child (494) but is, at least initially; very proudofhisfatherhoodand sendsmoneyfor Felix's support.Infact,Barbaradoes not contact Wilhelmuntil thisfirstsourcehasdriedup.ItisonlyafterNorberg's wild lifestylehas exhausted his financialresources that Barbarachoosesto inform Wilhelm of his fatherhood (502-03).

Moreover, Felixisnot theonlychildwhosepatrilinealdescentislessthan certain. Norishethe onlychildto claimWilhelmashisfather.Friedrichadmits freely that the child that Philineexpects and that he chose to accept as his own might quitepossiblybeWilhelm'soffspring. HeinformsWilhelmthatthemysterious visitorwho surprisedhiminhisbedroomafterthe infamousHamlet performance and with whom Wilhelmspent the night was none other than Philine. Friedrich's attitude towards his own questionable fatherhood is rather stoical: "Vaterschaft beruht uberhaupt nur auf der Uberzeugung; ich bin uberzeugt, und also bin ich Vater" (575).

Giventheseconflicting pieces ofinformation and what appearsto beaconsciousnarrativesubversionofWilhelm'sclaimto fatherhood,theTowerSociety's statutory confirmation of his paternity comes as a surprise. Its confidence and tersesolemnityareoddlyincongruousand hardlyeffectualin dispelling the unease anddoubtamassedthroughoutthecourseofthe previousnarrative.Intheabsence ofsatisfactoryalternatives,theAbbe'soath andhisappealtoallthatisholymust takethe placeofactualevidence. Inaddition,theinsufficiencyofthislaconicdeclaration is underlined by the contrasting narrative clarifying Therese's descent. Therese'slife, too,isimpededbyconfusionaboutwho hertrue parentsare.Thedesiredunion between herandLothariois believed to beimpossible becauseat some time in hispast Lothariohad beeninvolvedwithTherese'ssupposedmother.Havingfailed inFelix'scase, theTowerSocietynow succeedsinprovidingunquestionableproofthatThereseisthe productofanaffairbetweenherfatherandaservant girL Her"mother" agreedto adopt herinorderto concealherown childlessness. Therese's true parentage is clarified through a lengthy report. Contrasting with theAbbe'sterseoath regardingWilhelm'sfatherhoodarethedetailedtestimonies ofnumerouswitnessesincludingphysiciansand biologicalandadoptivemothers. Clearly;Therese'sstoryteachesusthat, althoughmaternity;too,maybesubjectto obfuscation, any uncertainty as to who is a child's mother is the product of consciousdeceptionsand intrigues.A carefulexamination of the circumstancesmust needsbringforththetruth. Incidentally,thisfactalsofoundexpressionincontemporarylegislationthatactedontheprinciplethat Unochildcanbeitsmother's 'Kebskind" [illegitimate child] (cf. Harms-Ziegler 329).7 Doubts regarding paternity; onthe otherhand,areofanexistential nature.IftheTowerSocietyfails to provideanycorroborating evidenceinFelix'scase, itisnotforlackoftrying.Infact, oathsandsolemnassurances guaranteedbyasocietyofmenaretheonly possible solution. Sincebiologicalmothersareconsidereduntrustworthyatbestand since fatherhoodcannotbebasedon biologicalproof, fathers-to-be mustrelyonhomosocial bonding. But oaths, although they can alleviate doubts, cannot eradicate them completely. A margin of error remains.

Atthisjuncture,aparadoxarises.AlthoughGoethe'snovelconfirmsthat paternitywillalwaysbeamatterofopinion, italsoemphasizestheparamountimportanceofacceptingone'spaternalobligations. Itisnotaccidentalthat thetermination ofWilhelm'sapprenticeship and hisinitiationinto the TowerSociety coincidewiththeconfirmationofhisownfatherhood. Whileacceptingone'spaternal responsibilities signals maturity;to beunawareofone'strue parentage isoneofthe main sources of unhappinessand miseryin WUhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (cf. Saine 138). Thereseisnot theonlycharacterwho suffers because oferroneous informationaboutaparent.TheHarperandMignon, thetwo characterswhoeludetheremedialinterventionoftheTowerSociety; alsotracetheirill-begottendestinyto misinformation about a child's descent. Sperata, the beloved and sister of the harperandMignon'smother,waskeptinignorance aboutwho herparents really were.Herbiologicalfatherhad siredherinhisoldageand,fearing theridiculeofhis neighbors, hadsenthispregnantwifetothecountrysideto concealthebirthofhis daughter. Thebabywasthen giventoa friend whoagreed toraiseherashisown child. Notknowinghertruedescent,Sperata fellinlovewith herown brother. Clearly, thelessonhereisthat greatunhappinessandsuffering arise fromafather's unwillingness toaccepthispaternalresponsibilities. Butsureknowledgeofone's patrilinealdescentdoesfarmorethan preventincest.Goethe'snovelsuggests that the recognition ofpaternaldutiesstemsthe tideof societal chaosandanarchyitself. Indeed, in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, citizenshipand fatherhoodarewell-nigh identical since Wilhelm had "mit dem Cefuhl des Vaters ... auch aIle Tugenden einesBurgers erworben" (517). Given this close association of paternity and civic virtue,itishardlysurprisingthat fatherlessness alsocarriesinitswaketheinability to gainBildung. An analysisofMignon'sstorysuggeststhat patrilinealclarityisthe precondition for acculturation itself. Mignon, whose grandfather failed to acknowledgehispaternityandwhoseown father, theharper,cannotfulfillhispaternalfunction,isdesperately seekingtoremedyher familiallack. Sheimplores Wilhelmto becomeherfather: "MeinVater!riefsie,duwillstmichnicht verlassen! Willstmein Vatersein!IchbindeinKind" (149).Butinspiteofherefforts,Mignon neversucceedsinsecuringafathernordoesshelearnhowto readorwrite.Herexclusionfromthe symbolic systemsofculture-Mignon'sabilityto expressherself inGermanisextremelylimited(cf. 99,271, 602)-isrelatedtoher exclusionfrom familialsystemsofmeaningfItisonlythroughherdeaththat Mignon,nowan enbalmedobject, canbeintegratedinto the sphereof Bi/dung.

The funerary rites that follow Mignon's demise are designed to undo the threattopatrilinearitythat arosethroughherincestuousbirth.Mignon'sdeath signals theeliminationofincestandtheconsolidationoftheculturalorder. In Violence andthe Sacred, ReneGirardpointstoaneedto rethinktherelationbetween kinshipsystemsand biologicaldata.AccordingtoGirard, the concept of biological kinship-not the fact ofbiologicalkinship-cannot existoutsideculture:"it isnot sufficient to say that kinship systems, even the most complex and artificial of them,take biologicalkinship'into account';suchsystemsareresponsible forthe discoveryofbiologicalkinship, andtheirexistenceconditionsallunderstandingof it"(227). Kinshipsystems,andtheirconcomitantrulesandprohibitions U are essentialto theorderingof biologicaldata"(226). Girard'sclaimisbasedontheassumptionthat "inthestateofnaturalpromiscuitytheconnectionbetweenthe sexualactandthebirthofchildren(oreven, perhaps, theveryideaofconception) would go unrecognized. Only through the establishment of incest prohibitions couldman hope to obtain the quasi-experimental conditionsnecessary to the recognitionofthereproductive process" (226).Thus,itisincestprohibitionsthatgive risenotonlytopatrilinearitybut toculture itself?

InterestinglyMignon'sembalmedbodyisdesignatedasan"Opfer" (592), a term that denotesboth victimand sacrifice. Shouldwe then assumethat Goethe's noveldepictsaconnectionbetween sacrificeandpaternity?10Ibelieve theanswer isno. Rather, likeIphigenie, WilhelmMeisters Lehrjahre replays the sacrificial scenario inordertorejectitasinsufficientforhisown time.

Aconnectionbetween sacrifice and paternity hasbeensuggested by the extensive research of theologian Nancy Jay. Jay's investigationof a wide array of cultures,rangingfromAshantiandHawaiiantribesto the biblical patriarchs andancientGreece, revealsthat thereisan"affinitybetween sacrificingandreckoning linesofdescentfromfathertoson"(XI). Jaybelieves notonlythat Uclantieswerea consequenceofsacrificingtogether"(XIII) butalsothat ambiguouspatrilinealdescentcanberemedied through sacrifice (XV).11 Amongthe examples that Jaycites isAbraham'ssacrificeofhisson Isaac.AnotherexampleistheHarper'sattempt to sacrifice FelixinadisturbingeruptionofviolenceclearlyinspiredbyitsBiblicalpredecessor: 12

Durch viele Fragen erfuhr endlich Wilhelm, daf der Harfenspieler, als sie in das Cewolbe gekommen, ihr [Mignon] das Licht aus der Hand gerissen und das Stroh sogleich angeztindet habe. Darauf habe er den Felix niedergesetzt, mit wunderlichen Cebarden die Hande auf des Kindes Kopf gelegt und ein Messer gezogen, als wenn er ihn opfern wolle. Sie sei zugesprungen und habe ihm das Messer aus der Hand gerissen. (344)

JustlikeAbrahamisprevented fromsacrificingIsaac,the Harperisprevented from sacrificingFelix. Andwhere Abraham choosesaram assurrogate victim, Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre offers up Mignon. Or does it? Does Goethe's novel indeed sacrificeMignon, who is a son but not quite a son, in order to break the circleofviolence thatsetsfather against sonandsonagainst father7 13 Ibelieve that such a reading ignores the ambiguity of Mignon's death and the novel's contempt for violence. After all, Wilhelm's union with Therese may have brought on Mignon's death, but this hardly qualifies as killing. Moreover, the Tower Society does indeed enact Mignon's obsequies with great solemnity, but Wilhelm's fatherhood has been confirmed long before these sacrificial rites are set in motion. Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre quotes the Biblicaltradition ofsacrifice,butitdoesnot reenactthekillingofasurrogatevictimnordoesit relyon sacrificeto confirm Wilhelm's paternity. Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahrereferencestheauthorityofthelivingbodytobuttressthegenderhierarchy,but it refuses to rely on the escape route of the dead body to shore up Wilhelm's claims to paternity. In Goethe's novel, women are creatures of the body, but fathers most decidedly are not.

InWilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, homosocial bondingisaccompaniedbythe disappearanceof biologicalmothers (cf.Becker-Cantarino, "Bekenntnisse"83;"Patriarchy"51).Thus, withWilhelm'sfatherhoodfirmlyguaranteedbytheTowerSociety;the taskthat remainsisto findanewmother.WhileWilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre startsout withMariane'srejectionofWilhelmasafather,itendswithMariane's death and the reinstatement ofWilhelminto fatherhood.Intriguingly; the empty placeofthe biologicalmothersis filled byawoman who isherselfdefinedasa void.!"ForSchlaffer,Natalieisthe"embodimentof rolelessness" (88).Herdesireto caterto the needsofherfellowhumans and to alleviate allsufferingissostrong thatDickseesinherthe"idealizationofinstrumental servitude" (13),a"self-sacrificing, female eunuch who has neither a will nor any wishes of her own" (123). Natalie's brother Friedrich proclaims that "du heiratest nicht eher, als bis einmal irgendwo eine Braut fehlt, und du gibst dich alsdann, nach deiner gewohnten Gutherzigkeit, auchalsSupplementirgendeinerExistenzhin" (582). Inadditionto thisrolelessness and selflessness, Natalieisalsotheepitomeofshapelessnessand facelessness, as evidenced in Wilhelm'svisionwhere she dissolves into nothingnessassoonasshetakesoffheruncle'sovercoat: "ErsahdasumhullendeKleidvon ihrenSchultern fallen, ihrGesicht, ihreGestaltglanzendverschwinden" (243, see also303and 247). Wilhelmhimselfemphasizesthat hisexperiencewithNatalie wouldbeindistinguishablefromadreamifitwerenot fortheovercoatthattestifies totherealityofher being. Indeed,the passingonofheruncle'sovercoat,which inspiresinWilhelm"daslebhaftesteVerlangen... sichdamitzubekleiden" (244), appears to be Natalie's true mission. Through the gift of the coat Natalie establishesabondbetweenWilhelmandher uncle. Significantly, thisuncleisthevery samepersonwho acquiredthe art collection ofWilhelm'sgrandfather. Through hisunionwithNatalie,who isnow the mistressofthiscollection,Wilhelmisreinstatedinto hisinheritance.Assuch,Nataliepresentsanidealvesselforthe transfer of wealth and property precisely because she has no claim to biological motherhood herself.l"

Through her own emptiness, Natalie is ideally suited to guarantee the functioning of the male genealogy as well as of the symbolic order. Natalie herself has no appreciation for art and is excluded from all symbolic systems to such an extent that she does not even participate in monetary circulation but distributes natural goods. Paradoxically, it is precisely this exclusion that enables her to function as an intermediary who reintegrates Wilhelm into the male family alliance (Schlechta 69). It is Natalie who, in Wilhelm's dream, leads Felix to his father, and it is also through Natalie that Wilhelm is connected to her brother Lothario and thus, ultimately,to the TowerSociety.Giventhese relationshipsand the peculiarlypassionlessnatureofWilhelmand Natalie'sbond,onemightclaim thatin Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre heterosexuality is "nothing but an alibi for the frictionless relationship of man with himself, for the relationships among men" 16 (see also Schlechta 69; Tobin, ~rm Brothers 112). Natalie is the missing link that completes Wilhelm Meisterls homosocial economy:

The women, animals endowed with language like men, guarantee the possibility of the usage and circulation of the symbolic without taking part in it. It is the non-accessibility, for them, of the symbolic that establishes the societal order. They can only realize their function to relate men to each other, to set up a connection between them, by renouncing their own right to speaking, and, beyond that, to their animality. 17

Even though Irigaray's insight pertains to the entiretyof Goethe's fictional society, the relationship among men that is considered most important in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre is that of father and son. Natalie's identification with the bride in the prominently featured portrait of the sick prince highlights this aspect. In the beginning, Wilhelm is identified with the sick son. By the end of the novel, however, Friedrich's interpretation of the portrait designates Wilhelm as father, whose connection to his son is brought about by Natalie (621). Whether Natalie establishes a connection between Wilhelm and his grandfather, Wilhelm and his son, or Wilhelm and Lothario, Natalie's facelessness and her asexuality are essential for the function that she fulfills within Goethe's novel. Consequently, in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, where Wilhelm's integration into the male alliance is already established, Natalie's role is reduced even further. She becomes a "correspondence bride" (MacLeod 423). Far from transgressing against traditional gender roles, the cross-dresser Natalie marks a void. It is her emptiness that upholds the symbolic system.

ThehomosocialnatureofGoethe's fictional society alsoservesto explainafurther puzzle: why is it that all male protagonists in Goethe's novel fall for women who at first wear men's clothing? Whether it be [arne's passion for the baronesse inher huntingoutfit,Lothario'sinterestinthe cross-dressedTherese,orWilhelm's love for three gender-benders, the little officer Mariane, Natalie in her uncle's overcoat, and Therese, who wears the clothing of a hunter when Wilhelm first meets her-the relationship with a woman always originates in the desire for the

cross-dresser.Andyet,Goethe'sfemale cross-dressersareportrayedastruly feminine creatures in spite of their dashing masculine exterior. Mariane, the Offizierchen, forexample, wearsauniformwhoseforemost effectconsistsofheighteninghereroticappeal. Initially; readersmightbeinclinedtothinkthat heruniform endowedtheactresswith courageanddetermination.Clothedinhermartialgarment,Marianehad refused todothewillofthepanderBarbara,whowanted toset herupwiththerichsuitorNorberg. ButMariane'srebellion proveshighlyineffective. Barbara'smocking speechabouttheempoweringeffectofMariane'suniform is delivered in the spirit of ridicule and preceded by the loud laughter of the old crone (10). Rather than assuming the authority that her uniform represents, Mariane'smilitarycostume serves tohighlight her helplessness. Shebecomes an "Offizierchen" (9). Moreover, Goethe'snovelnotonlyportraysMariane'sfallbut alsogives reasons forit. Barbara prevails because Mariane'smaterialneedsmake her vulnerable to seduction. Mariane's innate "feminine" weakness, which is equatedwith herinabilitytotranscendmaterialneeds-moreanunwillingness to

starvethan a cravingforluxury items-isstrongerthan hermomentary bravery, whichremainsasaliento hernatureasheroutfit isto her body.

In contrast to Mariane, whose masculinity is but a surface phenomenon, Thereseisintroducedasa"wahreAmazone," differentfromthoseotherswho are "artigeHermaphroditen" (454).Theresetakesonmanyjobsthat aretraditionally assigned to men. She is knowledgeable in finance and economy and occupies herself with agriculture, forestry, and orcharding. In carryingout her administrativeduties,Therese ridesthroughthecountryinmen'sclothing. Onemightbe temptedtoassumethat, forTherese, men'sclothingisthetrueexpressionofher inner"masculine"being. However,acloserinspectionofTherese'sresponsibilities revealsthat Goethedoesnot proposearolereversalbutratherexpandstherealmof female activity to encompass not only the kitchen and pantry but the entire household. Therese, whoisin chargeofmaintainingcleanlinessandorder, never loses sightofwoman's truegoal.18Allherknowledge andworkaresubordinated to oneoverriding purpose, "dafmanauf jedeWeisefurdasGluckderMannerundder Haushaltungsorge" (474).Itisonlywhen Lotharioexpresseshisconvictionthat overseeing a household is the most honorable occupation for a woman that Thereserecognizes inhimhersoulmate.Therese mightmorejustlybecalled a true housewife than atrueAmazon.Hercross-dressingdoesnotdestabilize thegender dichotomy; rather, it is a symptom that speaks of the underlying homosocial structureofGoethe'smalealliance. Wilhelm's initialchoice ofThereseashisfuture wifewouldappearto havebeeninspired less byTherese'spersonalcharmthan by thefactthat Theresehadalreadybeenchosenby Lothario. Ifweassumewith Sedgwick that the boundary between identification and desire is slippery (106), thenwantingwhat Lothariowants isneverfarawayfromwantingLothario (conversely; Wilhelm'sdesirefortheCount'swife occasionsanuncannyresemblance of Wilhelm and the Count). Ultimately; however, marriage to Lothario's sister proves preferable to the less tangible bondviathe formerloverTherese. Tellingly;

the marital transaction between Lothario and Wilhelm via Natalie isaccompanied by a real estate deal that solidifies the newly formed male alliance (cf. Sedgwick 129).19 In Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, fatherhood is the cornerstone of the social order, and marriage is the foundation of the economic order (cf. Levi-Strauss 38).

The fact that the cross-dressers in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre are intermediaries rather than partners in their own right also provides an explanation for the singularly passionless nature of most relationships in this novel. In fact, if there is any passion or desire in this novel-that is, passion not associated with madness and desire not accompanied by disgust-it is tied to the figure of Mignon. If we take into consideration that, in the eighteenth century; the term "mignon" denoted male homosexual prostitute or favorite (Tobin, Warm Brothers 42, 110), we might be tempted to conclude that, in addition to signifying incest, Mignon also embodieshomoerotic desire.P Within this context, Mignon's death might be understood as a form of exorcism. Significantly; however, her enbalmed body is placed in the hall of the past, the core of the Tower Society: Mignon, though dead, isstill the center of this male alliance.f If one accepts this premise, then Goethe's claim that Mignon-who in a diary entry of September, 1786, is still referred to with a masculine pronoun ("dem Mignon")-is the reason why the entire work was written acquires a different meaning.F The desire for a "mignon" that can neither be acknowledged nor abandoned informs the entire structure of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre and helps to explain the proliferation of cross-dressed characters. It is precisely because Mignon holds an irresistible attraction for Wilhelm that the desire for her must give way to a different form of relationship in which, as Irigaray claims, homoeroticism, "prevalent everywhere, but prohibited as a practice [... ] is playedoutviathebodiesof women."23Seenin this light, homosocialityin Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre is a sublimated form of homosexuality in which the desire for othermenissymbolicallymediated throughthefemale body;asexemplifiedin the male characters' relationships with Therese and Natalie. Significantly; Mignon dies as Wilhelm embraces Therese. But it is crucial in this context that Mignon is defined as a being that has no access to symbolic systems of meaning. Mignon cannot exist in the realm of culture and neither can passion or desire. Her burial marks the transition from desire to renunciation. Mignon is no surrogate victim; rather, the loss that she represents is real and painful. In Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, the history of civilization is indeed "the history of the introversion of sacrifice. In other words: thehistoryofrenunciation" (Horkheimer/Adorno62).24It signals theend of a desire that respects neither gender boundaries nor societal rules.

Bildung in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre is not to be defined as the moral and psychological development of an individual, but as an ongoing process of renunciation that is crowned by the successful integration into a society of men whose homosocial bond guarantees patrilineal descent and hence societal order. Following this line of interpretation goes some way to explaining the conspicuous and oftennoted absence of maturation in Wilhelm. In Goethe's novel, maturity does not manifest itself through progressive personal growth but through the momentous

decisiontoacceptone'splaceinthelineoffathers. NotethatwhenWilhelmacceptshispaternalobligations for Felix, healsoseestheapparitionofhis deceased father sanctioning his son's development (cf. Becker-Cantarino, "Bekenntnisse" 84-85; "Patriarchy" 50).25

Clearly; Goethe's novel relies on homosocial bonding to guarantee paternity andsocialstability. Butitdoesmorethan that. Its pervasivesenseof irony; noted bynumerouscritics(Swales 29; Jantz104),isconnectedtoitshonestacknowledgment ofthe unsatisfactorynatureofthe textualassurances and social ritualsthat must standinforbiologicalcertainty(cf. Boyle376).ThoughGoethe'snovelisunambiguousin its propagationof the misogynistic modelof Geschlechtscharakter, it isalsomarkedbytheprofoundinsightthat ourmostfundamentaltiesarenotgifts ofnaturebut theproductsofa processofsocialconstruction.PItsself-conscious ironyderivesfromasenseofdistance. Goetheisnotonlyacutelyawarethat fatherhoodisnot naturallygivenbut sociallycreated, heisalsoconvincedthat itis thissocialrealitythat counts.Amanmaynot behisson's "genitor," but hemust accepthisresponsibility as"pater"ifsocietal orderisto bemaintained.Butevenas Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre affirmsthe necessityofunambiguouspatrilinearity, it also paints an atmosphere of absurdity and disenchantment resulting from the knowledgeofitsconstructedness.Thus,[arnoinformsWilhelmthat theTower Societyisbut a relic "voneinemjugendlichenUnternehmen,beidemesanfangs den meisten Eingeweihten grofser Ernst war, und uber das nun aIle gelegentlich nurIacheln" (564).Similarly;FriedrichtellsWilhelmthathissonwillbeausefulcitizen if he does not die from laughing immediately after his birth (575), while Philine,fullyawareofthecomplicationsofpaternaldescent, pronouncesthat it would bemuch nicerifonecouldshakechildrenoffthe trees (211).

Wemightwonderthenwhy Goethe,inspiteofhisironicdistance, couldnotlet goofthe closeassociation betweenfatherhoodand social harmony.I believe the answer to this question lies in the political context in which Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre waswritten. Duringthe 1790s, asymbolic patricideofgreatmagnitude, theexecutionoftheFrenchking, hadleftdeepwoundsinthe collectivepsyche."It is hardly surprising that Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre contains a plethora of images andmotifsthat revolvearoundthedeathoffathers.Onemightmention Hamlet, a dramawhoseplotissetinmotionbythemurderofafather, ortheHarperwhois convinced that Felix will kill him, or, in a somewhat mitigated form, the unexplainedandsuddendeathofWilhelm'sown father. Butalthoughhistoryleftits imprint, Goethe's novel is engaged in a project of re-writing history. In Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre,theTowerSociety; Goethe'sveryown bandofbrothers,isdedicatednottothe murder, buttotheconfirmationoffathers. Goethe'sTowerSocietyworks togetherto upholdtheinstitution offatherhoodinthe absence oftranscendentalsystemsoflegitimationandin spiteofthe lackof biological proof.

But nowadays we have biological proof. In a recent edition, the German weeklyDie Zeit featuredan articleentitled "Papa-Paranoia im Labor." The article discussedthemushrooming increaseincompaniesthat offergenetictestingdesignedtodeterminethepaternityofa child. Itwouldappearthat ourgene-savvy agehasfinallyfoundtheanswer;that nowscientificclarityhastakenthe placeof Goethe'shomosocial societyand that Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre isnow redundant. Well, not quite.Followingcloselyupontheheelsofthefirstarticle, Die Zeit printed yet another feature about fatherhood. This one, entitled "Nicht ohne meinen Papa" and authored by Christine Brinck, begins with the question "Wer braucht Vater?Siegebarennicht, siestillennicht, siewickelnselten.Sindsieuberhaupt zu etwasgut?"Theanswerto thisquestionisaresolute"yes" because, andherewe enterfamiliarterritory; thereisaverystrongconnectionbetweenfatherlessness and social anarchyAsthe articleinformsusinboldprint:"DreivonvierMordern undzweivondreiVergewaltigernsindohneVateraufgewachsen." Inthis article, theabsenceoffathersisthefaultoffeministswhoareconvincedthat "Vatersind Tater."In the fantasylifeofthis author,women havemetamorphosedinto female Wagners who dreamoffinallybeingableto dowithout theanonymousdonorsof spermonwhom theyhadtorelyinthepast.Whereasin Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre fatherhood is ontologically problematic, in today's genetic age women are to blame. ButthereisevenmoretobesaidforGoethe.In Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, thereisastrongsensethat fatherhood, economics,andpoliticsareinterdependent. In "Nicht ohne meinen Papa," economic and political considerations have vanished completely; and their disappearance has left the individual psyche bare. Clearly;genetictestingdoesnot evenbeginto addressthemostfundamentalquestionsaboutfatherhood. Goethe'stext,ontheotherhand, expressesanawareness oftheinsufficiencyof biology(atleastwithrespectto paternity)andtheineluctability of social construction. Moreover; although Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre presentshomosocial bondsastheonlyway to preventanarch)', italsodepictsemotionallossasinextricablylinkedwith thisformof socialstability.Ananalysisof Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre showshow verydifferentwearefromtheeighteenth century; and how very little we have moved.


ltt Mephisto (leiser): Was gibt es denn7/ Wagner (leiser): Es wird ein Mensch gemacht./ Mephisto: Ein Mensch7 Und welch verliebtes Paar/ Habt Ihr ins Rauchloch eingeschlossen7/Wagner:BehuteGott! wiesonstdasZeugenModewar,!Erklaren wir fur eitel Possen./ Der zarte Punkt, aus dem das Leben sprang,/ Die holde Kraft, die aus dem Innern drang,! Und nahm und gab, bestimmt, sich selbst zu zeichnen,! Erst Nachstes, dann sich Fremdes anzueignen,/ Die ist von ihrer Wurde nun entsetzt;/ Wenn sich das Tier noch weiter dran ergetzt,/ So muf der Mensch mit seinen grofsen Gaben/ Doch kunftig hohern, hohern Ursprung haben" (II. 6834-47). Foran insightful and innovative discussion of this, see Hart 74.

2Amongthe scholars whopaidattentionto the issueofpaternityisMark Redfield. 3Interestingly, Boyle claims that the writing of Wilhelm MeistersLehrjahre was informed by Goethe's sadness about the loss of his own illegitimate children: "the last

two books, books 7 and 8 ... were the pearl that grew round the death of Carl, as the revisions of books 1 and 5 had been his response to the death of Caroline" (304).

4The existing anatomical differences were thought to have been caused by the lack of heat in women, which had resulted in "the retention, inside, of structures that in the male are visible without [... ] In this world the vagina is imagined as an interior penis, the labia as foreskin, the uterus as scrotum, and the ovaries as testicles" (Laqueur4). In sum, woman is man turned outside in. According to the one-sex model, it was absolutely conceivable for a woman to turn into a man (cf. Laqueur 123). There are a number of stories of women who sprouted a penis; for example, that of the shepherdess Maria Garnier, later Germain Garnier (cf. Orgel 20). One day Marie was chasing after some pigs when she jumped over a ditch. The heat, generated by the strenuous exertion, propelled her internal vagina/penis outside, and Marie became a man.

5The work of Swiss sociologist Claudia Honegger has affirmed Laqueur's theses forthe Germanrealm. ForHonegger, too, the secondhalfofthe eighteenthcenturywas a time of radical changes, during which the body emerged as the Archimedean point of a discursive power struggle. Endowed with the power of "analogical verification" (Scarry 278), the body came to be entrusted with the regulation of gender identities: "[etzt erst fugt sich das Geschlecht ganz in den Kerper ein und seine 'logische' Verteilung folgt unmittelbar den anatomischenMa~en" (Honegger 8). During the course of the eighteenth century, the social position of women and the relation between psyche and body had remained curiously undecided. At around 1800, however, the new trend solidified as the formula "The body shapes morality" gradually became the central tenet of a new anthropology (Honegger 42).

6In this, I disagree with both MacLeod's and Tobin's otherwise superb analyses of Wilhelm Meister. For a detailed discussion of cross-dressing in Wilhelm Meister see Krimmer.

7This implied that an illegitimate child could inherit his/her mother's property, but not that of his/her father.

SIt also precludes her from acquiring a gender. Unlike Natalie, the child-woman Mignon is a true hybrid. The grammatical confusion which adheres to this androgynous being attests to the impossibility of identifying her/him with one pole of the gender dichotomy. Mignon is often referred to as "creature" or "figure" ("Gestalt, "91). At times, the text even resorts to masculine pronouns when speaking about Mignon (591); a usage tha t was especially pronounced in the Theatralische Sendung, as Wolff and MacLeod (401) have pointed out. When Wilhelm first perceives Mignon, he is unsure whetherheisdealing withaboyoragirl.Both the surgeonand the harperareconvinced that Mignon is a boy. Mignon herself identifies with the male gender (Tch bin ein Junge, ich will kein Madchen sein," 214) and refuses to wear women's clothing. Even as a young child, Mignon had worn boy's clothing and climbed trees with her male companions (603).

9 SeealsoClaude Levi-Strauss, whoclaimsthatthe prohibitionofincestis"the fundamental step because of which, by which, but above all in which, the transition from nature to culture is accomplished" (24). One might wonder whether Goethe inserted the triangular relationship between Therese, Therese's mother and Lothario to exemplify the arbitrariness of specific interpretations of the incest prohibition.

10One mightclaim thatGirard failsto seethis connectionbecausehis worklacksan awareness of the gender differential inherent in procreation. Girard is right when he claims that patrilineal descent is inconceivable outside kinship systems, but he fails to acknowledge that kinship systems are far from sufficient when it comes to paternity. Because Girard assumes that "the father explains nothing" (214), he, unlike Goethe, fails to realize the connection between patrilineal descent and that which concerns him most, namely sacrificial rituals and surrogate victims.

llJay also points out that sacrificial practices "are not of significance among people relatively unconcerned with inheritance of important productive property, such as hunter-gatherers, who have little durable property. Nor do they usually survive the introduction of a modern economy." Rather, they are typical of "pre-industrial societies with some degree of technological development, in which rights in durable property are highly valued" (34-35). Goethe's fictional society of landowners would appear to fall into the latter category.

l2"Andtheycametothe place whichGodhadtold himof;andAbrahambuiltanaltar there, and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham; and he said here am I"(Genesis 22: 9-11).

l3Interestingly, the chorus pronounces its conviction that Mignon's sacrifice will make other sacrifices unnecessary: "Dir folge kein Knabe, kein Madchen nach!" (591). Based on this statement, one might call Mignon a surrogate victim in the Girardian sense, namely a victim that can put an end to the violent circle of murder and revenge, preciselybecauseitis notthe culprit butaninnocent.Tellingly,the characterwhoisresponsible for the violence that this sacrifice is meant to contain is Mignon's father. It is the harper whonotonlytriestokillFelixand whoviolentlytakeshis ownlife,butwho isobsessed withthe thoughtofrevenge:"dieRache,diemichverfolgt," 215;"dennalle Schuld racht sich auf Erden," 139.

l4Schlechta draws attention to the fact that both Therese and Natalie take care of other people's children, but have no children of their own (48).

l5Minden draws attention to Natalie's function as an empty vessel when he asks ironically: "Inheritance is meaningless without Natalie, but where or what is Natalie without the ordering principle of inheritance?" (284)

l6"et l'heterosexualite n'est jusqu'a present qu'un alibi ala bonne marche des rapports de l'homme alui-meme, des rapports entre hommes" (Irigaray 168).All translations from the French are mine.

l7"Les femmes, animaux doues de parole comme les hommes, vont assurer la possibilite de l'usage et de la circulation du symbolique sans y etre pour autant partie prenant.C'estlenon-acces, pourelles,ausymboliquequietablitl'ordresocial. Mettant en rapport, en relations, les hommes entre eux, les femmes ne realisent cette fonction qu'eny abandonnantleurdroitalaparoleet,d'ailleurs, aI'animalite" (Irigaray 184).

l8Cf.Dick who points out that Therese's life "revolves around the tasks that bourgeois society has assigned to women" (85).

19It isof interest to note that the union between Natalie and Wilhelm also conforms to another pattern identified by Sedgwick: "the transaction by which the woman binds herself over to the man ... is presented in each of these fictions as coinciding with the transaction by which the feudal order gives over to the bourgeois" (158).

2°Schlaffer claims that it is imperative within the logic of the text that this desire remain unspoken: "Die Zerst6rung Mignons und des Harfers beginnt daher, sobald man

sie in der Turmgesellschaft, vermeintlich urn sie zu heilen, zum Sprechen bewegen will" (59).

21The factthatMignonlivesonasthe secretcenterofthe Societyisalsoconfirmed bythe verbalambiguity ofthe passagesthat describeMignon's death: "fielsie... fur tot nieder" (cf.Arnd Bohm 28).

22In aconversation with KanzlerMuller (qtd. in Schlaffer40).Wilhelm,on the other hand, isGoethe's "geliebtesdramatischesEbenbild" (qtd.inWolff28). 23"Partout regnante, mais interdite dans son usage, I'homtmjo-sexualite se joue a travers les corps des femmes" (Irigaray 168).

24The membersoftheTower Societybecomesubjectsaccordingtoa"eingedrilltes Schema, nach welchem die Unterworfenen das ihnen angetane Unrecht sich selber nochmals antun, urn es ertragen zu konnen" (Horkheimer/Adorno 58).

25Consequently, on his path to Bildung Wilhelm also overcomes his infatuation withHamlet,acharacterwho most notablyrefusestoprocreateandfoundafamilyof his own.

26The fact that Goethe ironizes Wilhelm's blind trust in destiny (cf. Marahrens 153)alsoappearsto beconnectedto theemphasisonsociallycreatedasopposedto naturally given meaning.

27Interestingly, Freudclaimsin Totem undTabuthat the murder of the father led to the introduction of incest prohibitions: "Hatten sich die Bruder verbundet, urn den Vaterzuuberwaltigen,sowarjederdesanderenNebenbuhlerbeidenFrauen.... Somit bliebedenBrudern,wennsiemiteinanderlebenwollten, nichtsubrig,als-vielleicht nach Uberwindung schwerer Zwischenfalle-das Inzestverbot aufzurichten, mit welchem sie alle zugleich auf die von ihnen begehrten Frauen verzichteten, urn derentwegensiedochinersterLiniedenVaterbeseitigthatten. SierettetensodieOrganisation, welche sie stark gemacht hatte und die auf homosexuellen Cefuhlen und Betatigungen ruhen konnte, welche sich in der Zeit der Vertreibung bei ihnen eingestellt haben mochten" (198).

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