Brigitta

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Brigitta is a novella by the Austrian author Adalbert Stifter. The novella opens with a discussion on inner beauty, which remains a strong theme throughout the novella.

Plot summary[edit]

The first person narrator, a German-speaking man, is sent a letter by a man called the Major who asks the narrator to visit him for a while in Hungary. He invites him to perhaps stay for months or years. The narrator accepts this invitation and wanders for a while through Hungary in order to gain some insight into the land. The two men had gotten to know each other during a trip in Italy and were, for a time, inseparable.

The narrator meets a woman dressed and riding her horse like a man, and he first mistakes her for the Major himself. The woman guides him to the home of the Major. After their reunion, the Major shows the narrator around his land and the narrator becomes familiar with his surroundings.

Once as Brigitta lay sick with fever in bed, the Major came and cared for her during her illness. He stayed day and night by her bedside. Since that time, the Major and Brigitta experienced a true friendship.

Often discussed are the Major’s watchdogs that are supposed to protect his houses from wolves. After a hard winter, the wolves begin to go after people. During a ride one night, the narrator and the major come across a pack of wolves attacking Gustav, Brigitta’s son. Gustav is bitten in the leg and loses much blood. The Major brings Gustav back to his lodgings and calls for a doctor and for Brigitta. The doctor says that Gustav will be fine, but in a fever for several days. Brigitta stays by her son’s bedside in the Major’s house.

The Major, observing the love of Brigitta for her son, begins to cry. The Major tells the narrator that he had always wished to have a son himself. Brigitta overhears, looks at the Major, and they suddenly embrace passionately. The narrator learns that the Major is actually Stephan Murai. After running away from Brigitta, he could not forget about her and could never really think about another woman. He went the Hungary, where Brigitta was living and finds her feverish. She recognizes him as the father of her son when her illness is cured, and they promise to remain just friends. Tense feeling of more than friendship lurked under the surface for many years. When Brigitta’s son is ill, the Major’s heartfelt emotion breaks the treaty of friendship between Brigitta and the Major. Brigitta says that he has finally become a good person and they embrace, verifying the complete fulfillment of their love.

All the while, the narrator stands somewhat awkwardly thereby (like he has for much of the story). He stays with the newly reunited family for the entire winter in Hungary and becomes almost like a member of the family himself. At the end, the narrator returns to his fatherland.