Monday, February 18, 2008

The Tart

The Tart is amazing in Schnitzler’s ‘Reigen,’ because she is the only character who seems to embrace her sexuality. To be fair she does sell her body for a living, but her sexual experience with the Soldier proves that she enjoys sex recreationally as well. The play says:

Soldier: You don’t need money? Who do you think you are anyway?
Tart: Oh I get money from the civilians. But a fellow like you can get it free, any time.

She never claims to love the Soldier, she never tells the Soldier that she loves him; she takes their relationship as a raw physical attraction as they make their way down to dark spot by the Danube.

The Tart’s laid back attitude towards sex is really interesting considering how most women felt about sex in Vienna during this time. I imagine women of this period growing up completely naïve about their own bodies, and the bodies of men. These women probably covered the mirrors when they came out of the bath. In this type of rigid Victorian environment it would be difficult to embrace your own sexuality. The Tart on the other hand completely embraces her sexuality. She’s probably swim in the Danube naked in broad daylight.

So, while the Tart is a prostitute she enjoys sex for more than the financial gain she gets from it. Her encounter with the Solider demonstrated that her sexual motivations exceed financial gains. She isn’t looking for love, she just seems to be looking for sexual pleasure.

1 comment:

Lasica said...

While I agree with the assessment that the tart is the most honest of the characters with regard to her relationships, I think she does expect something at the end of the encounter with the soldier. The last exchange between the two is over names and car fare. She wants to know his name and asks him for money, he does not do either. She obviously enjoys having sex with him, but she would like a small consideration in return. When this is contrasted to her exchange with the count leaving money on the table for her, it is obvious that she does expect something from these encounters. The count asks her if she gets any pleasure from her work but she never answers him. Perhaps she treats all her clients the same way, we don't know. Maybe she never asks for money, preferring to let them pay her as they see fit. She tells him to tip the maid and mentions that he won't have to tip the janitor because the street door will be open, leaving the suggestion open that he will have to do that in the future. She also says that she doesn't go with just anyone, she picks them out herself. I think all of this information combined leaves us with an interesting portrait of the tart.