Judith (Hebbel)

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This article is about the play by Hebbel. For the play by Giraudoux, see Judith (play).

Judith is a play written in 1840 by 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-c upbringing. Changing the political plot of the biblical story into a psychological investigation, he invests Judith with a sexuality and beauty that proves fatal to the men around her: she is left a virgin on her wedding night since her beauty (or so she believes) renders her husband Manasses impotent, and when in Holofernes's tent, she subconsciously exercises her repressed sexual desire, leading Holofernes to rape her and her to 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 these 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.