Effi Briest

Topics: Sociology, Effi Briest, Theodor Fontane Pages: 4 (1266 words) Published: November 18, 2008
Reading a textbook quickly turns into a tedious and repetitive process. Even though a textbook provides us with important factual events and dates, it fails to enlighten us on the actual morality and functioning of society at a specific period. Filling those gaps are authors and other historians who have written more pleasurable novels that emphasize societal structures, morals, manners. An example of such would be the admired and highly looked upon novel by many historians, Effi Briest, by Theodor Fontane. In this novel, Fontane exhibits societal pressures and its loss of morals due to expectations and beliefs. Through Theodor’s use of language, style and most importantly content of the novel, we are given a clearer perspective of what it truly meant to live in the 1880’s.

Effi Briest, the novel that maps out the truth about society and its pressures along with the ties between politics, manners, and morals, is one of many of Theodor’s novels that contain the reality in the hardships endured of living an aristocratic life, especially that of a woman. In the novel, Effi Briest, a young girl is forced into a marriage to an older Prussian diplomat and a former admirer of Effi‘s mother. Effi’s life soon is spent within the walls of her and her husbands, Baron Geert von Innstetten,’s home in Kessin, where Effi feels isolated and locked away from the world around her. Effi’s longing for her past life along with neglect she feels, causes her to commit adultery with Major Crampas. Years later, her Prussian husband, learns of Effi’s wrongdoing and challenges Crampas to a duel eventually killing him. Instetten then receives custody of their daughter and divorces Effi, leaving her to die alone years later.

Theodor Fontane’s reason for his use of adultery is important in explaining what cannot be read in textbooks. In his novel, he attempts to show the tensions between following social norms and fulfilling one’s desires, in this case those of a young...
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