“The Rats”---A Tragicomedy set in Berlin


Dec. 24, 2013

“The Rats”, the graduation performance of Departments of Directing and State Design’s 2014 undergraduates, was a great success at the Duanjun Theatre in the evening of Dec. 22, 2013.
This famous stage drama is a Nobel Prize-winning work of Gerhart Hauptmann. It vividly depicts the misery of Berlin’s people who are at the bottom of society.

In the play, sadness triumphs over happiness. To pursue her own family’s happiness, Mrs. John illegally bought an illegitimate child. She spears no efforts to cover it up but accidentally causes the death of child’s birth mother. In the end, her brother is chased by the police and her husband leaves her, leading her to jump to her death. Mrs. John is a pathetic as well as hateful character. She devotes all her love to that child, but even she does not know whether it is right or wrong. She hopes to have a warm family, but what she’s done scares her husband. Her desperate pursuit of happiness makes her lose everything, which precipitates her suicide. This play is a reflection of hardships borne by the underclass. In such a frivolous society, ordinary people live in a narrow and dirty place like rats and only pray the best. Even so, aristocrats, police, and detectives still leave them no peace. The rats in the play implicate a state of life which has no ideal or no hope and everyone in the play is a part of it. It also reflects the great changes, such as industrialization and moral degeneration that German was undergoing. This painful society is like the lines said by Mr. John, chief dramatis personae in the play:” Here everything is rotten; everything is eaten by the moth and bit by the rats. Everything is shaking and is likely to collapse every moment!” Full of sarcasm, it is a symbolist play.