Author: Georg Büchner
First published: 1879 (written, 1836; English translation, 1927)
Plot: Psychological realism
Time: Early nineteenth century
Friedrich Johann Franz Woyzeck (FREE-drihkh YOH-hahn frahnts VOY-tsehk), a superstitious, slow-witted peasant conscripted as a fusilier in the German army. He is devoted to his sweetheart and their small son. To earn money to support them, he does many menial jobs, including shaving the Captain. He attributes his low moral standards to his poverty and lack of education. He has strange visions and is driven out of his mind by his mistress' infidelity. He kills her and then drowns accidentally while trying to get rid of the murder weapon.
Andres (AHN-drehs), a matter-of-fact soldier and Woyzeck's friend.
Marie, Woyzeck's mistress and the mother of his little boy. A hearty, earthy person, she takes the Drum Major as her second lover, defying Woyzeck when he discovers her infidelity. She is murdered by Woyzeck after he sees her dancing with the Drum Major at an inn.
The Drum Major, Marie's second lover. A swaggering, powerful man, he beats Woyzeck badly in a fight over Marie.
The Captain, Woyzeck's commander. He teases Woyzeck about being a cuckold, thereby arousing Woyzeck's suspicions about Marie.
The Doctor, an eccentric. He pays Woyzeck to submit to absurd medical experiments. He finds Woyzeck laughable and makes the man appear ridiculous in front of others.
Karl, a loafer in the garrison town. He says, before Marie's murder, that he smells blood on Woyzeck.
Kaethe (KAY-teh), a girl at the inn in the garrison town. She is the first to notice that Woyzeck has blood on his hands after he has murdered Marie.