Analysis of the aspect of Modernity in Arthur Schnitzler`s novella `Dream Story`

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Analysisof the aspect of Modernity in Arthur Schnitzler`s novella `DreamStory`

ArthurSchnitzler’s ‘Dream Story’ is about Fridolin, the protagonist,and Albertine, his wife, and how they almost break away from theirmarriage but realize they need each other (Acevedo-Muñoz 130).Fridolin gets carried away because of jealousy on hearing his wife’sconfession of a desire for another man. The paper that follows willexplain why Arthur Schnitzler`s novella ‘Dream Story` can be calledmodern in the context of sexual escapades. Also, it will tacklemodernity regarding the confidence exhibited by the prostitute andthe deceased man`s daughter. And finally, there shall be a discussionof candidness in marriage, and how it is modern-like.


ArthurSchnitzler’s tale DreamStorycan be referred to as modern because of the sexual escapades thatoccurred in the narrative. Fridolin, the protagonist, meets with hisclose acquaintance in a café they were together in medicine school,but he never completed his studies. However, he ended up becoming adesired well-talented pianist. During their talking together, thefriend tells him that he will be playing piano at a secret society.Fridolin insists on knowing where this party will be and hisacquaintance agrees to take Fridolin to the bash. But beforeattending the secret festivity, Fridolin is required to have a maskand a costume because the identity of all party goers was secret.After reaching the venue, he finds all the women in the party naked,standing motionless with masks over their faces (Anderson318).He gets into an extreme torment of desire after seeing all the nakedwomen. He then almost has sex with one of the women at the party, butbefore this happens he is pushed out of the event by the others afterthey come to realize he is an intruder. He vows to keep on searchingfor the woman that he had so much desire for but came to his senseslater on. With such incidence alone, the novella can be referred toas modern because nowadays, people are involved in secret houseorgies where those who attend are the invites only. It seems as ifArthur Schnitzler when writing his novelette, DreamStory,had a glimpse into the future because what transpired in hisnarration is what is currently happening in this era, concerning orgyparties.

AdvancesMade by Women

Thestory can be called modern because of the manner in which Fridolinencountered a prostitute. When Fridolin and Albertine were having aconversation, they were interrupted because one of his patients wasin trouble. He left, and after arriving at the patient`s home, thevictim was dead already. The deceased man`s daughter (Marianne)experiences a sudden attraction to Fridolin and makes this revelationto him (Acevedo-Muñoz 130). She reveals to him that she has feelingsfor him and that she desires to be with him. The confidence sheexhibits is not expected from an old-era perspective this isbecause, in the ancient days, men were the ones who were supposed topursue ladies. The act of a girl seeking a man and declaring her lovefor him was unheard of, leave alone practical. However, in the modernworld, females are empowered to hunt whatever they want. As such,they have the confidence to trail men and tell them directly whatthey want. It is no longer a shameful act as it used to be during thetimes of our great grandparents this shows a touch of modernity inthe novella. Later on, as he was leaving the deceased man`s house, hebegan to walk in the streets and gets accosted by a young prostitutenamed Mizzi, who tries to tempt him. He is almost tempted as he goesfurther to the prostitute`s room. Nevertheless, he is not attractedto her solely because of inhibitions, which lack clarity to himthus, he leaves, having done nothing with Mizzi. It is another casethat exhibits a twist of modernism in the sense that Mizzi is the onewho took the initiative of accosting him, and in fact, she was notashamed of the act. In the past, prostitutes were ashamed of theaction. Thus, they would not accost men on the streets. However, inthe novella, Mizzi is not ashamed as she confronts Fridolin in thestreets with no care in the world as to who would judge her thiswould be more expected in the modern world, than in the past asstated by Ullman (30).

Forthrightnessin Marriage

Modernityis showcased in Arthur Schnitzler`s novella in the kind ofconversations, which the married couple had. For instance, in one ofthe talks, Albertine confesses that she was erotically attracted to aparticular young man whom she had gotten a glimpse at in a particularhotel during the last vacation they had taken in Denmark. She furthersaid that she was ready to have sexual relations with the stranger,even if it meant throwing her marriage away. Fridolin responded byconfessing about his experiences as well. He told her that he wasattracted to a particular girl who had blonde hair on the beach. Thismoment of confession depicts the modern times, whereby marriagepartners are usually candid with one another. Nowadays, marriagespouses have no shame in making confessions to one another, and thatis exactly how some unions thrive. After the conversation, Albertinewas left in limbo, as she thought that they should tell each othereverything in the future. It is worth to note that in the past,people could not dare tell their partners about their attraction forother persons, as this was perceived to be promiscuous. However, themodern society has acknowledged that such issues happen and that itis better to be open about them, rather than being dishonest orkeeping secrets.


ArthurSchnitzler`s fable can be called current due to certain actions,which depict the modern culture. For instance, a sexual orgy sees itsplace in the narrative. In the present world, people engage more insuch kinds of acts, as compared to the past. It was unheard of forladies to approach males and convey the feelings they have towardsthem this was portrayed when Marianne revealed her affection anddesire for Fridolin. Additionally, the prostitute who accostedFridolin in the streets was confident enough to approach him in thelanes, something that can be expected from modern women. Anotherscenario is when there is a moment of confession for both Fridolinand Albertine all of them give their secrets away without shamethis also seems to be more in tune with the contemporary culture,than in the past. Overall, Arthur Schnitzler, in his novella, hasmanaged to grasp the attention of both young and old readers, as theycan all relate to some situations in unique ways.


Acevedo-Muñoz,Ernesto R. &quotDon`t look now: Kubrick, schnitzler, and&quot Theunbearable agony of desire.&quot&quot Lit:Literature Interpretation Theory&nbsp13.2(2002): 117-137.

Anderson,Susan C. &quotThe Power of the Gaze: Visual Metaphors inSchnitzler’s Prose Works and Dramas.&quot&nbspACompanion to the Works of Arthur Schnitzler&nbsp(2003):303-324.

Ullman,Sharon R.&nbspSexseen: The emergence of modern sexuality in America.Univ of California Press, (2013) : 20-33.

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