Judith (Hebbel)

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Judith is a play written in 1840 by the German dramatist Friedrich Hebbel.

The play, composed at Hamburg, was Hebbel's first tragedy. The following year it was performed in Hamburg and Berlin, making the German poet known throughout Germany.

Based on the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, Hebbel's adaptation presents a heroine who oversteps the boundaries of proper womanhood as defined by his 19th-century upbringing. Changing the political plot of the biblical story into a psychological investigation, he invests Judith with a sexuality and beauty that prove fatal to the men around her: she is left a virgin on her wedding night because her beauty (or so she believes) renders her husband Manasses impotent, and in Holofernes's tent, she subconsciously exercises her repressed sexual desire, leading Holofernes to rape her so that she can subsequently behead him. "Holofernes prefigures the misogynist ideology of the fin-de-siecle", and while Judith resists the traditional female role she is given, she cannot transcend its restrictions.[1]


  1. ^ Peters, Renate (2001). "The Metamorphoses of Judith in Literature and Art: War by Other Means". In Aránzazu Usandizaga. Dressing Up for War: Transformations of Gender and Genre in the Discourse and Literature of War. Andrew Monnickendam. Rodopi. pp. 111–26. ISBN 9789042013575. Retrieved 30 June 2015.