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Emilia Galotti

Emilia Galotti by Gotthold Lessing (1729 - 1781), which appeared in 1772, provides a classic example of German bürgerliches Trauerspiel[?] (bourgeois tragedy). Other works in this category include Schiller's Kabale und Liebe[?] and Hebbel[?]'s Maria Magdalene[?].


Set in Italy, Emilia Galotti tells the story of a virtuous young woman of the upper middle class who, because of her beauty and because of a nobleman's lack of scruples, falls into disgrace and finally has her father kill her in order to maintain her virtue and purity, seriously threatened by the actions of the prince, her admirer.


Gotthold Lessing's work of course comprises an attack against the nobility and its powers. Lessing depicts aristocrats as having unfair powers in society and as ruining the happiness of the emerging middle class.

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