Monday, February 18, 2008

Reigen--Sex & Death

In “Reigen,” there is the elemental essence of each individual’s nature contrasted with the disintegration of the society as they know it. Schnitzler writes about the moments before and after sex, they are brief but give us strong impressions of what is happening between the characters.

These are characters that lack energy and vitality; they are moving toward the grave. These are lives in decline; they are not on the verge of radiating success There is no great exhilaration of love, there is just apathy and detachment, coupled with the vague impression that most of them have done this many times before. The male characters are jaded, promiscuous, and hold a higher social standing than their conquests. The female characters are searching for something: love, adventure, social status, or power. They are socially inferior, including the married woman, and all are sexually attainable. All except the tart want assurance that they are loved, or at least that they are worthy of the gifts that they might receive from their lovers. All the characters are self-conscious. They all enter into their ‘romances’ in a very deliberate fashion. The tart seems to be the most honest about her desires, but there is no way to know exactly what she thinks will happen in the future.

There is a strong atmosphere of a dissolute and degenerate morality. These are people taking chances; they are ignoring the possibility of sexually transmitted disease in their search for momentary pleasure. There is no joy in this search; they experience no pleasure in the sex. The count and the husband describe the experience of extra-marital sex as “intoxication.” This does not seem adequate to explain why they expose themselves to life threatening consequences in the pre-penicillin world. They do not really seem to care about their lives and behave as if there is no future. Even the married lady ignores the possibility of pregnancy or disease in her desire to experience…what exactly? ...momentary bliss? There are many allusions to “love” but all are phony and insincere, including the “love” between the husband and wife.

No comments: