Sexual Politics and Autobiography in Berg's Wozzeck

13 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2013

Date Written: April 10, 2006


Alban Berg’s second opera, Lulu, contains overt themes of homosexuality, in particular lesbianism; this is considered by several writers including McClary, Clément and Pegley.

The gender issue of the feminine victim in Lulu is likewise considered by these writers, as is the female victim figure of Marie in Wozzeck. What is not considered by these writers is the extent to which Berg may have sought to address male homosexuality and male gender issues. In this essay I consider this proposition in the context of Berg’s first opera Wozzeck.

Moreover, I consider the extent to which this was autobiographical, and whether such a theme (if indeed it is present in Berg’s Wozzeck) originates in the original Woyzeck of Büchner. The questions, then, that I will consider below and draw conclusions from, are:

1. In critical terms, what are the gay and male gender issues in Berg’s opera Wozzeck, specifically in the character of Wozzeck?

2. Could such issues be in any way autobiographical?

3. How does the original Woyzeck differ from Wozzeck in this respect?

Keywords: Alban Berg, Wozzeck, sexual politics, Büchner, opera, gay, homosexuality, gender

Suggested Citation

Benjamin, Tim, Sexual Politics and Autobiography in Berg's Wozzeck (April 10, 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Tim Benjamin (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

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