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In: KulturPoetik 2020, Issue 1


Saskia Fischer


»Denn sie wissen nicht, was sie tun«? Schuldverdrängung und Schuldbewusstsein in Friedrich Dürrenmatts Der Besuch der alten Dame




What happens in modern stories of guilt when religion and its ritual practice no longer seem to be an appropriate way of dealing with guilt? Does this lead to an emphasis on the destructive and repressive side of guilt? Or do modern presentations offer a ›constructive‹ way of dealing with wrongdoing, even though atonement and repentance as practices to purify one’s guilt have become obsolete? Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s drama The Visit (1955) focuses on how our culture deals with and instrumentalizes guilt and debt and thereby raises doubts as to whether the irreversible value of the individual, as emphasized by the Judeo-Christian tradition, could be at all valid in today’s complex, bureaucratic and capitalist society.