Schiller’s work “Robbers” is a five act play. The premiere of the play was on January, 13th 1782 and the crowd loved it. “The Parable of the Lost Son” from Luke’s gospel is the background of this story.
We have two brothers and the youngest one, Franz Moor, wants to get all of the inheritance, so he tells his father all about his older brother Karl’s robberies. It wasn’t enough for him to spit on his brother name but he also told his father that he should disown his son so that he wouldn’t have to grieve for him. After his father had told him he wasn’t ready to do it, Franz wrote a letter to his brother pretending to be his father and wrote him not to come home. Karl, humiliated because his father disowned him, creates a robber gang with the people who shared his opinion and he was their leader.
Franz only wanted one thing, and it was to become a count. He thought he had successfully got rid of his brother, so he had to get rid of his father as well. He told Hermann, a nobleman’s illegitimate son, to put on a disguise and tell old Moor his son Karl was dead, the old man fainted, and Franz thought he was dead, so he wanted to bury him as soon as possible. The old man woke up, and Franz hid him in the forest. Everyone thought that the old Moor was dead, so Franz took his place. Then he had a new goal, and it was Amalia, his brother’s fiancée, which stayed faithful to Karl even though everyone was saying he was dead.
In the meantime, Karl robbed with his gang. He realized his friends were doing wrong by people. After Kosinsky had told him his story, Karl decided to see Amalia again. He liberated his father, and Franz committed suicide. Karl wanted to come back to Amalia and say goodbye to the robber life, but his gang won’t allow him to do so because they have put their lives on the line for him to many times.
The play has a tragic end because Karl kills his fiancée and he gave himself up to a poor man so that he would get the reward for finding him and handing him over.
In the first scene, we can see the Moor’s Castle. Franz tells his father Maximilian con Moor that he has some news about his brother Karl. Franz apologizes about his brother’s behavior and says that they should hide his embarrassment forever. Franz took a letter out of his pocket and red it. It said that Karl lives a licentious life, that he dragged seven of his friends down his path and that he dishonored a banker’s daughter and killed her fiancé in a dual. Franz told his father that he was reading the easiest parts because he wanted to spare him the pain. He also told his father he doesn’t believe a word of that letter. Maximilian was disappointed in his son.
He told his father to look at what his son has become. Maximilian apologizes for having the wrong opinion about his son, and Franz told him he would sacrifice his life so that he could extend his. He tried to convince his father to disown Karl so that he wouldn’t have to call him his son and that he wouldn’t be this sad. He told him that a bloodline doesn’t link a father and a son but that their hearts do. Maximilian hesitated because Karl was still his son. Franz told him that many people made amends after their licentious lives through suffering and that Karl will also do so if his father makes his suffer for a while. Franz suggested he should write a letter because he was too afraid of Maximilian showing too much rage in his words. Maximilian accepted his proposal only if the letter won’t make Karl completely desperate.
When Maximilian left, Franz started laughing because he knew that his father would never see Karl again. He was happy about her rid of his father’s pet, as he referred to him because by removing him he removed half of his father’s life. He destroyed the letter he wrote himself so that no one would find out about it. Franz was angry at nature for making him, as he thought, unattractive. At the end of the scene, he says he will get rid of anything standing in his way of becoming a count.
In the second scene, we can see a tap house where Karl is reading Plutarch’s book. Spielberg told him about one of his life’s adventures. He found himself by a pond, which no one could jump over, near his house. One of his neighbors, who he loved to annoy, had a dog. One day he hit the dog in the ribs with a rock, and when the dog started chasing him he had no other option than to run, and the pond was in front of him so he had to jump it and he did it. Spielberg told him the story to make him remember that courage rises in danger and that he should join him in Paris and London.
Karl told him he wouldn’t be joining him because he wants to go home to his father and fiancée Amalia. He also told him that he wrote a letter to his father asking for his forgiveness and to allow him to come back home. Soon Schwarz brought him a letter from his dad. The letter said he should come home and that his father disowned him. In the meantime, Spielberg was gathering a group of friend to form a gang and make a shelter in the forest in Czech. Karl came furious and told them he would be their leader. He asked them to plead their loyalty and obedience to him until the day they die.
The third scene brings us back to the Moor’s Castle but this time we are in Amalia’s room. She is angry with Franz for making his father disown Karl. She told him he should be ashamed of his actions. Amalia asked Franz to hate her and leave her alone forever. Franz lied to her and told her that Karl gave a ring which she gave to him to a harlot and he told her everything about his alleged conversation with Karl. He allegedly told him he is leaving Amalia and that Franz should take care of her. Amalia stepped away from him and told him he was a liar and a traitor because Karl told her in the same place that she shouldn’t give her love to anyone, even if he dies. Amalia told Franz she despised him and that she wouldn’t mind even if Karl were a beggar because she wouldn’t change him for the world.
Franz Moor is in his room furious because his father was still alive. He says he can’t kill him but that he also doesn’t want him alive. He asked the Greek goddesses to help him. Hermann came, and Franz knew that Maximilian had previously offended him. Hermann told him he would be happier if Franz were the ruler. We also find out that Amalia had rejected him because of Karl and that he was still holding a grudge. Franz told him that Karl has been banished for eleven months and that his father will start looking for him any day. Franz asked Hermann to disguise himself and tell Maximilian he was from Czech and that he fought Karl and that Karl had died in the confrontation.
Maximilian was asleep, and Amalia was next to him. Maximilian was calling for his son in his sleep. He wakes up and says that he dreamed about asking his son for forgiveness. His servant came and told someone was looking for him. Hermann and Franz entered. Hermann changed his voice to say he got into a confrontation with Karl in Prague and that Karl died. His last wish was for his father to receive the sword Hermann was carrying, and his last breath was Amalia’s name. He also gave Franz Amalia’s picture because Karl told him to do so. Franz looks at the sword and sees something written in blood. It said that he should never abandon Amalia and that her oath is destroyed by death. Amalia leaves saying Karl never loved her, but she came back because Maximilian was feeling ill. She called the pastor to come.
In Czech Schwarz bring the news of Roller being killed and Karl was furious because Roller was very significant for him. Karl and the rest of his gang came, including Roller who says he is only alive thanks to Karl. He says they set the whole town on fire.
In the meantime, Moor says he wants to get away from everything and wait for the apocalypse, but a priest comes saying they are surrounded by 1700 people waiting to hang them. Moor told the priest that he had 79 men and that he was their leader. He also stated he killed the count and set a church on fire.
Amalia was singing in the garden when Franz joined her. We find out Maximilian died and that he was the ruler now. Franz told Amalia he willingly proclaims himself her slave, but she rejected him. Franz told him he would send her to a convent if she disobeys him. Amalia feels happy about it because at least she won’t have to look at him in a convent. Franz was furious and threatened to drag her into a chapel and force her with a sword to obey him. Amalia slapped him, and Franz furiously told her he wouldn’t make her his wife but his mistress. Amalia chased him away when Hermann came saying both Maximilian and Karl are alive.
Kosinsky came to the robbers looking for Karl because he wanted to join them. Karl told him he was out of his mind because a robber’s victory is followed by danger and shame, not glory. Kosinsky told him his story. He was a Czech nobleman who became the ruler after his father passed away and that he proposed to his Amalia. When Karl heard the name Amalia he rose up.
Kosinsky kept on saying how he was planning his weeding when he was invited to the court where he lost his sword and ended up in a dungeon. He was there for a month when he was declared innocent and got his sword back. He went to search for his Amalia, and she was trapped in a castle. She managed to tell him that she had a choice of becoming the count’s mistress or seeing Kosinsky dead. He came to the count but he was caught again, they took away his sword only this time he didn’t end up in a dungeon. He was banished.
Karl talked to his robbers after hearing his story and told them they would be heading to his home because he has to see Amalia.
The robbers came close to the Moor’s Castle. Karl will pretend to be a nobleman and Kosinsky will pretend to be a stableman.
Amalia and Karl, pretending to be a nobleman, are looking at some pictures in the gallery. Amalia tells him all about Maximilian’s death, and Karl asked her about a picture next to Franz. Amalia wasn’t able to tell him it was Karl and she started crying and ran away. Karl was well aware of her love for him. He also left.
Later on, Franz came to the gallery to see his brother’s picture. He realized that the alleged nobleman was his brother Karl in disguise. Daniel, the servant, brought him some wine as Franz ordered, but he got paranoid that the wine was poisoned by Karl’s orders. Franz told him that Karl must die and that the servant will kill him if he wants to spend his last days peacefully.
Karl was in a room in the castle, and Daniel came in saying he wants to kiss his hand. Karl was still pretending to be a nobleman, but after Daniel told him how he used to put candies in his pocket, Karl admits his real identity. Karl asked Daniel if his Amalia had forgotten about his and what his brother was up to. Daniel told him that his father thought Karl was dead and that he made his brother his heir.
Karl realized that his brother falsified the letter and told Kosinsky to saddle up a horse because he was able to kill his brother, which he still loved if he stayed a second longer there. After saddling the horse, Kosinsky came back, and Karl told him he had to see his Amalia one last time.
Karl came to a garden where Amalia was crying while looking at his picture. Karl asked her about the man in the picture, and she told him he was dead. Karl told her about his love which thought he was dead. He asked Amalia how she would feel if she knew her loved one was a murderer. Amalia didn’t realize he was talking about her. Amalia says that her love couldn’t even see a fly hurting. Karl leaves.
The robbers made a shelter for themselves in the forest near the castle. Spielberg was angry with Karl because he was the leader and he called Razmann to tell him that he wants to kill Karl, but then Schwizer appeared and killed Spielberg.
Kosinsky and Karl came and started playing an instrument. Karl went to walk around the forest when Hermann came to the castle and told the man who was inside to come and eat. Hermann was getting ready to leave when Karl stopped him. Hermann told him he couldn’t go to the voice he hears talking. Karl realizes it was his father’s voice, but he thought it was a ghost. His father told him he was no ghost and that there is a dead dog in his grave. He was trapped for three months by Franz.
He says that he fainted when he heard Karl was dead and that he woke up in a coffin. When he started making noises, Franz heard him, and he was angry about Maximilian being alive. After seeing his son, Maximilian passed out again and woke up trapped. Karl didn’t want to believe his story.
Karl shot out of his gun and woke up his robbers. He told Schweizer to avenge his father and that he will get a million in reward. He also said he needed Franz alive.
Daniel was getting ready to take a trip when Franz stopped him. He was emotionally unstable, and he claimed that he saw ghosts rising from graves. He heard cannons and shouts. Franz told Daniel that he was running a fever and asked him to get the pastor. He also retold Daniel all about his dream of preparing a royal feast. He was in the garden when he heard thunder and saw fields kicking out dead men bodies and skulls. Franz looked towards Sinai where three people were sitting on three tables. All three took a step forward, and the third one said he was weighting human thoughts. He heard his name and every clock threw a death sin onto the scales.
The pastor came, and he didn’t know will Franz make fun of religion or shiver in front of him. The pastor told him he held thousands of lives in his hands and that he had ruined 999 of them. He told him that God would not watch his unfair reign. Daniel walked in scared because he saw a group of horse riders coming their way. Franz told them all to go to the church and pray for him. The castle caught fire and Franz asked Daniel to kill him with a sword. Daniel didn’t want to do it, and Franz took a golden ribbon of his hat and strangled himself.
Karl and Maximilian talked without Maximilian knowing he was his son. Maximilian was still mourning Karl, and he told him that his son must have forgiven him. Karl’s robbers came and told him that Schweizer left and that Franz was dead. Amalia came and hugged Maximilian. She knew that the robber was her Karl. Karl stepped away from her saying he had killed many people.
Maximilian, after realizing his saviors are robbers, dies. Amalia told Karl she cannot leave him and Karl was surer than ever that she still loved him and he loved her. One of the robbers came forward accusing Karl of betraying them who have put their lives on the line for him. Karl let go of her hand and says he was crazy for thinking he could ever come back. Amalia asked Karl to kill her because she was unable to stay alone again. Karl doesn’t want to do it, so she asked the other robbers to do it. Karl doesn’t allow it, so he kills her saying he gave the life of a saint for a life of a robber.
Karl wanted to take away his life, but the robbers won’t let him. In the end, he decided to hand himself over to a poor man who had eleven children so that he could receive a thousand goldfinches for handing him over.
Theme: the feud between Franz and Karl
Time: for two years
Characters: Franz, Karl, robbers, Amalia, Maximilian von Moor, pastor, Daniel, Hermann
Karl – was Maximilian’s oldest son and his father adored him. In the beginning, Karl was trying to come home to his father, begging for his forgiveness. Even though he wanted to come back, Spielberg told him that he wasn’t a Moor anymore and reminded him of all the times he makes fun of his father. Franz had other plans for him, and he wrote him a letter saying his father disowned him. He was humiliated for apologizing to a father who disowned him that he became a robber and lived outside of the law. He became a leader of a robber gang. He was rebellious and brave. Karl fought for freedom and his beliefs. His robbers had a high opinion of him. Roller even said that without Karl they were a body without a soul. He fought against hypocrisy and inhumanity. When he came home, it was too late because he had already burned down all the bridges. Despite having Maximilian’s and Amalia’s forgiveness his faith was tragic as well as the one of his fiancée which he killed so that one of his robbers wouldn’t. He realized that justice would catch up to him sooner or later, so he didn’t want to live his life hiding. He handed himself over to a poor man so that the man would receive money for handing him in.
Franz – was Maximilian’s younger son. He wanted to become a count and didn’t choose the means to get what he wanted. Franz was the complete opposite of his brother, and he was bitter because his father loved Karl more than he loved him. He was an ugly character, and he stated that himself when he asked why did nature make him the way he is. His soul matched his appearance. He managed to banish his brother but knowing how his father was he knew he would send people to look for Karl, so he got Hermann to help him make Maximilian believe that Karl was dead. He was unable to get rid of his father, so he kept him locked away. He didn’t manage to seduce Karl’s fiancée Amalia. He even threatened to make her his mistress if she didn’t agree to be his wife. In the end, he behaved like a coward and took away his life by strangling himself.
Amalia – was Karl’s fiancée and she was extremely faithful to him. When Franz asked him how can she reject him for a robber like Karl she said that she wouldn’t change her Karl for the whole world. She didn’t even want to abandon Karl when she thought he was dead. She accepted him even after he admitted to being a murderer and a robber. In the end, Karl killed her because she didn’t want to live without him.
Maximilian von Moor – was Franz’s and Karl’s father who was unaware of Franz’s scheme. He loved Karl and neglected Franz, so he got his revenge in the best possible way by making Maximilian believe his favorite son was dead. At the beginning of the play, we see a desperate father waiting for news about his son. When Franz read a letter about Karl’s alleged misdeeds, Franz managed to convince Maximilian to disown his son. Maximilian was unable to do it, so he let Franz write the letter for him. He often dreamed about his son and begged him for forgiveness in his dreams. Franz didn’t manage to kill him, so he hid him in the forest where the old man was becoming weaker each day.
Friedrich Schiller Biography
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) was a German poet and play writer. He was also a translator and a magazine editor. In his early years he wanted to become a priest, then he studied law and in the end he became a military doctor.
His first and most famous work are “The Robbers.” In this play, Schiller is trying to let us know about good and evil coexisting and that we need to stand up to injustice in any way possible.
After publishing this book, as a military doctor he was forbidden to pursue his literary career, so he ran to Stuttgart where he was free to keep on writing.
He published “Fiasco”, “Don Carlos”, “Intrigue and Love” after “The Robbers” and before he died he went to Weimar where he wrote historical plays “Wallenstein”, “Mary Stuart”, “The Maid of Orleans”, “William Tell” and “The Bride of Messina”.
After a long illness, he passed away in Weimar on May 9th, 1805.