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Theatre / The Robbers

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The Robbers is a drama by German playwright Friedrich Schiller. It was his first play to be printed and performed and became his breakthrough success.

Franz von Moor, second son of the old count, starts an intrigue against his older brother Karl, to become the heir instead. Also, he tries to hit on Karl's Love Interest Amalia. Meanwhile Karl, with some nudge from his buddy Spiegelberg, decides to join a band of robbers and becomes their captain (he hopes to become someone who helps the weaker, like Robin Hood). Things escalate soon.

You can read the English translation here.


  • Ambiguously Jewish: Spiegelberg appears to be Jewish, being circumcised, a zionist, and bearer of a jewish sounding name. His religion is, however, never quite confirmed, and he uses some antisemitic idioms quite freely.
  • Band of Brothers: The robbers (or at least those loyal to Karl) soon become one of these, going out of their way to save one of their own from execution.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Or rather, Evil Equals Ugliness. As in the case of Franz Moor, who lampshades it when he laments his bad looks, referring in an un-PC way to his "negro lips" and "Hottentot eyes". Though it's debatable whether Franz is truly ugly or just thinks he is due to having been The Unfavorite for so many years, as other characters never refer to his looks. There are usually two ways to address this topic in different productions: Either the monologue is taken literally and the actor is turned immensely hideous, or they cast a certified Pretty Boy to show the audience just how caught up in his own psychosis Franz is.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Spiegelberg and his men break into a nunnery to rape the nuns. Afterwards, Spiegelberg brags how some nuns "put their cells under water".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Roller, a member of the robbers, is caught in a city, they liberate him, burn down the city and kill 83 people.
  • Downer Ending: Karl confesses to his father that he's become leaders of the robbers, which kills the old man. Franz already has committed suicide. Amalia is willing to forgive Karl, but being a robber, he can't live together with her, so she begs him to kill her then, which he does. Then, Karl decides to turn himself in.
  • Dramatis Personae: As befitting a classical drama, all characters and their positions are listed at the beginning of the play.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Hermann brings food to the old count whom Franz had locked up to let him starve to death.
  • I Gave My Word: Karl swore an oath to death to his robbers, so he can't return to a normal life.
  • I Have No Son!: Their father to Karl. Which makes the latter so desperate that he agrees to become a robber.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Karl doesn't want Franz to get killed.
  • Kick the Dog: Franz treats Daniel, loyal old servant of the family, like shit.
  • Last-Name Basis: The robbers among each other, to the extent that, besides Karl, Spiegelberg is the only one who even has a cannonically mentioned first name.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Amalia has sworn to be faithful to Karl, even after she believes him to be dead. She becomes overridden with guilt when she starts to fall for the mysterious "count Brand", not knowing that he is Karl in disguise.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Franz fakes letters from Karl and badmouthes him (accusing him to be a rapist and a killer) constantly to Amalia and their father, so that he'll disinherit Karl.
  • Meaningful Name: Edelreich, Amalia's last name, consists of the German words for "noble" and "rich". Schufterle (one of the robbers) means "little scoundrel". Spiegelberg, whose name is German for "mirror mountain", mirrors Franz in many ways.
  • Missing Mom: The Moor brothers don't seem to have a mother.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Karl starts out pretty high on the idealistic side, with Franz serving as the cynic. He does, however, lose much of his idealism over the course of the play.
  • The Starscream: Spiegelberg would have preferred to lead the robbers himself. He eventually gets killed by a loyal robber.
  • Third-Person Person: You could be forgiven to think that there must be more than one character named Spiegelberg. The man just loves to talk about himself in third person.
  • Token Evil Teammate: At first, it seems like Spiegelberg is this. It later turns out that at least a few more robbers are just as sadist as him.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Without Spiegelberg, Karl and his friends would never have become outlaws.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Karl is arguably a villain, but he decides to let a poor guy with eleven children bring him (Karl) to justice, so the poor man will get the thousand gold coins which are the prize on Karl's head.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Schufterle brags about having thrown a baby into the flames of a burning house. Karl expells him for it.
  • We Were Your Team: When Karl tries to leave the gang, the others confront him, reminding him of his Blood Oath and calling him a traitor.