Critics who reduce Innstetten to an embodiment of inhumane socialforces overlook the subtle psychological motivations of an insecureand troubled character. Discuss this statement with reference to EffiBriest.
Humanbeings display certain characters that make people judge them.Inhumane characters are called so due to their inhuman actions.Sometimes people forget to ask themselves why these people tend tobehave as they do. There could be certain forces or circumstancesthat might have caused cause these actions. In the novel, Fontanewrites a story of two major characters Innstetten and Effi. Althoughcritics of his novel reduce Innstetten as an embodiment of inhumanesocial forces, they tend to overlook that he is an embodiment of aninsecure and troubled character.
Fontanebrings out Innstetten`s troubled character when introducing Effi andsaying that she got married to a 38-year old Innstetten, who hadcourted her mother and that he had been spurned for his status(Fontane 2000: 12). Although his status has improved, the rejectionby the people could have made him the person he is. Innstetten is aninsecure character. He stays away from Effi for a while, and whileEffi tries to criticize this by saying that their house may behaunted, he calls her fears meaningless (Khun 2016). He fears thatthe scorn he would get from people if they knew about Effi`s fearswould stall his career. His career has torn him from his family. Hedoes not give them enough time, and he even scorns his wife when shetries to seek his attention. His actions are as result of hisinsecurities for his work
AlthoughInnstetten confesses that he loves his wife and would never havecause to suspect her, he still looks down on Crampas whom he finds ashameless philanderer with cavalier views of laws. Crampas on theother side thinks Innstetten is patronizing (Fontane 2000: 10)Critics could see this action as inhumane, but the main motivation tothis is mere because Innstetten is insecure of losing his wifealthough he does not want to admit it.
Itdoes not cost a thing to acknowledge that Innstetten was also a goodperson at some point. Innstetten in most circumstances could be seenas a bad character which hinders most from seeing his goodness.Innstetten was sympathetic and kind. Fontane in the novel says he iskind and good but certainly not a lover (Fontane 2000). Critics willcertainly pick the character of not being a lover, but I wouldacknowledge his kindness and sympathy. Meaning his inhuman characterwas sometimes caused by other psychological motivations.
Itis a measure of Fontane`s artistry that he convinces us thatInnstetten and Effi did not have a choice, ‘but Effi Briest wouldhave suffered less since she had been given a chance to go to Mentonbut she refuses` (Khun 2016). Innstetten`s actions of taking fullcustody of Effi`s daughter and turning her away from Effi could beseen as inhumane, but in the real sense, an angry person would do thesame. It is only psychological motivations of revenge that made himdo that. Effi could have lessened the trouble if she had moved out toMenton (Fontane 2000).
Innstettenactions are just as a result of mere destiny. Fontane goes on andcleverly presents this view that there was no way out for Effi andInnstetten, and they both follow their destiny blindly. Innstettenfinds the letters of Effi`s affair through a mere accident. He had noplans whatsoever that he would have found this letters. This destinycaused tragedy led to the divorce and killing of Crampas. Influencefrom a friend colleague also caused the actions of Innstetten. Had hekept quiet, he might have been able to forget the affair. Confidingin his colleague Wullersdorf. He made Effi`s infidelity public andalso allowing himself to be available for ridicule. Innetten hencehas only one Path-He must kill the seducer or die himself. "Esmuss sein" It was obvious that Wullersdorf had made him insecure(Fontane 2000).
Innstettencommits himself to the unwanted path of honor. In the aftermath ofthe fatal duel, he does what honor demands and divorces Effi. He istroubled and compelled by the law to do that. This is a driving forcebehind his actions. Even when he takes full custody of Annie, he issupported by the Prussian noble society (Fontane 2000: 122). WhenInnstetten decides to duel with Crampas and kills him, his inhumancharacter is brought out. But it could be easy to overlook the factthat Innstetten is troubled. He just divorced his wife due to the lawof the honors. Fontane mentions that "even his career fails todelight him" (Khun 2016). It is obvious that Innstetten istroubled, and his actions are as a result of these forces.
Thefact that he had confined in Wullersdorf made him so insecure.Innstetten thought that he would lay himself to ridicule from people.Moreover, Wullersworf encourages him to take the path of a duel whenhe argues vainly: "Surely there is a time when a duel is nolonger necessary? "And Innstetten disagrees: "Tyrannicalsocial or other" (Fontane 2000: 202).
Whenwe tend to criticize people based on their actions, we tend tooverlook the forces or circumstances that caused these actions. Thisis the same case for Innstetten. He is brought out as an inhumanecharacter in the novel. However, critics also need to remember thathis actions were as a result of his society and what he was goingthrough. He was a troubled person and also insecure. He did not livea life that he wanted to lead but only pleased people and followedthe rules of honor. Hence the cause if his actions.
Fontane, T. (2000). Effi Briest, Berlin: Penguin Classics
Khun A. K. (2016). Modes of Alienation in Fassbinder’s Effi Briest.Journal of Germanic