Summary of Lessing's Emilia Galotti Tragedy

The work "Emilia Galotti" by G. E. Lessing, a famous playwright of the Enlightenment, tells the story of the fate of a young and proud girl who became the object of desire of the prince.

The plot of the drama is taken from the famous ancient Greek tragedy "Verginia". However, the author transferred the effect of the tragedy in his time, to the context of court intrigues, more understandable for the people of the 18th century.

Is it worth reading the summary of G. Lessing's work "Emilia Galotti"? The summary will allow you to learn about the history of Germany in the Enlightenment and about the struggle of the word of the famous writer. In the retelling or review you can find a common plot, but not the pleasure of reading the classic.

G. Lessing. Talented playwright

The future writer Gotthold Efraim Lessing (1729-1781) was born in the family of a priest. In the city of Kamenets, Saxony. In 1746, at the insistence of his father, he entered the theological faculty. But he was attracted to the theater, and soon he dropped out and performed with a wandering theater troupe; I tried myself as an author of plays.

Gotthold Lessing eventually became a reformer of the German theater. In 1753-1755 He published the first collected works, on these plays immediately staged popular performances.

The author criticized the desire for the French classics of German theater-goers, opposed stoic idealism. In general, at one time it was very popular. But now in Germany, his productions are taking place, and people bring flowers to his monument.

History of writing. From the intent to the realization of the novel

The tragedy of Verginia was originally described by Titus Livius in the third volume of the history of Ancient Rome. It described the story of how a public figure Appy Claudius wished to make the daughter of a simple plebeian his concubine. But the girl’s father, realizing the inevitability of Verginia’s shame and humiliation, in desperation killed his daughter in front of the crowd. And thereby provoked a massive rebellion against the patricians, which culminated in the victory of the people.

G. Lessing and his plays

The German playwright G. Lessing was inspired by this idea, and decided to write a similar work. In which honesty and courage of the common people would defeat the insatiable demands and privileges of the ruling class. In the Middle Ages, in Lessing's native land, just like in Rome, the oppression of the ruling elite did not allow his subjects to breathe.

The play was published and read for the first time before the public on March 13, 1772. The public saw a number of unambiguous hints in history about intrigues among the elect and was very inspired by Lessing's message to rebel against injustice.

Lessing wrote his play for almost 15 years. He sought to make his heroes as realistic and congenial to the people as possible.

"Emilia Galotti". Summary

The action takes place in Italy in the XVII century. Crown Prince Hettore Gonzaga discovers in himself a love for the daughter of General Galotti. And his former passion, Countess Orsina, had already fallen out of love. When he learns from his chamberlain about Emilia’s wedding with Count Appiani, he and Marinelli are preparing a plan to abduct the bride.

death of verginia

Marinelli organizes a robbery attack on a carriage in which Emilia and Count Appiani go to their wedding. In the process of the attack, the count is killed, and Emilia is kidnapped and taken to the courtyard. Prince Gonzaga organizes an investigation into the attack, and he keeps Emilia in his chambers and does not let him go anywhere.

General Galotti comes straight to Gonzaga's residence and demands justice. But he does not want to know anything, and wants to accuse Emilia herself of conspiring with some lover and she herself ordered the murder of the groom. Emilia’s father does not want to see her daughter’s disgrace, Emilia herself demands to take her life, and Odoranto Galotti himself stabs his daughter with a dagger.

Lessing "Emilia Galotti". Play analysis

The problem of the play is the clash of emotions and reason, the high ideals of Emilia and reality. But also on the pages of the work there is a strong conflict between two layers of society: high nobility and courtiers. Emilia’s father is in a bad relationship with the prince, he has already wooed his daughter for the noble Count Appiani.

However, the prince fell in love with a beautiful girl, seeing her only once at a ball, and then in a picture of the artist. The spoiled and willful young man set out to bring her to the palace, if necessary, even by force. The prince is shown from a very bad side. In his character depicts all the depravity inherent in the upper class.

theatrical productions of our time.

The heroine is described quite a bit. Her character lacks brightness. Rather, she appears as an immaculate victim; there are no other colors in her image. Emilia's father is an image of perfect courage and justice. He is incorruptible; it is impossible to intimidate him. The prince does not like this man, since he cannot be lured into the net. This person is alien to the principles of court indulgence in the wishes of the royal court, the desire to gain power and wealth.

The main conflict of the work lies in the tyranny of the prince, which is opposed to the honesty, purity and nobility of Emilia Galotti. Summary may not always show the true character of the heroes. You can’t evaluate a character by a short review. It can also have positive features that open to the reader in a diary or memoirs. However, here the characters are unambiguous. The prince is a true villain, Odoardo Galotti is a respectable family man and father, and Emilia is a victim of a villain.

Passion reaches its peak when Emilia is taken to the palace and an investigation is scheduled, before which she can neither escape, nor see her relatives. Dramatic denouement - the murder of a girl; like Verginia, her own father killed her.

Lessing's works

This play is one of those that raised to the top of the glory of Gotthold Lessing. Also known for his work are "Nathan the Wise" and "Minna von Barnhelm."

Chronotope Drama

The time of action in the drama "Emilia Galotti" is the 17th century, the place is the city of Guastalla in Italy. According to the chronotope, drama can be attributed to medieval novels, in which someone’s intrigues are always the key factors in the plot.

The popularity of the play

After translation into Russian by Karamzin in 1788, the play gained immense popularity in Russia. And even in our time, theater performances are still successful, and viewers are waiting for new productions.

The play "Emilia Galotti" takes place in theaters around the world in different interpretations, but with the preservation of the essence of the idea.


How can you evaluate a classic piece that has passed the test of time? It is interesting and well thought out, compiled in accordance with all the laws of building a German classical drama.

Nikolay Karamzin. Interpreter

The play is easy to read, the intrigues of the count and Prince Hettoren interweaving in the plot prevent the reader from relaxing and leaving the book unread. The work "Emilia Galotti", a review of which was written by Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin himself, still excites the feelings and minds of readers, and causes genuine tears at the end of the drama.

Screen versions. Audio plays

The work "Emilia Galotti" has been repeatedly filmed with the advent of cinema in our reality. The first film was released in 1913, then the second film was already released in 1958, directed by Martin Helberg (GDR). Modern productions - 2002 and 2005.

Staged by Emilia

In a film about Emilia 2005, starring Peter Pagel and Regina Zimmermann.

Performances in recordings are very popular now. An audio performance performed by famous actors and actresses can be purchased on disk.

Play Audio Performance

Anyone who has read the play "Emilia Galotti" will enjoy the audio performance. Of course, some dialogs are reduced, the atmosphere can not be completely conveyed only by sound, but it is also very interesting to see the idea of ​​drama as the author of this production saw in his imagination.


As a writer, an artist known in many countries, Lessing was in the famous collections of quotes. His works, like many other writers, are often divided into small phrases so that people can think about the meaning of what was said and draw ideas without reading the entire volume.

For example, the expression said by the prince to the artist is known:

The grin should not turn into a grimace.

Hettore spoke of his ex-lover like that, hinting that her behavior and feelings were completely fake.

Is it really not enough that sovereigns, unfortunately, are people like everyone else? Should the devils also pretend to be their friends?

The play must be read thoughtfully. This is largely a philosophical thing, not just a love story. There are also well-known quotes from the book about the share of kings, the fate of women, the power of law and lawlessness. And, of course, about the essence of love.

Unhappy with such readiness become attached to each other.

The art of drama. Lessing's plot

What is the uniqueness of the play "Emilia Galotti"? The summary will not convey all the beauty of the syllable and the obvious talent of the writer. The plot is correctly "woven", all the characters are interconnected; the actions of the heroes are really dictated either by circumstances or by a character structure, as necessary.


So, the play in the five acts of Lessing's “Emilia Galotti” is a real work of art that has not lost its popularity even after 200 years. Lessing in Germany is still respected and appreciated as a playwright and person who made the German theater a national treasure.

We have a story about Emilia who is also quite well known for theatergoers. From time to time new productions are staged, new actors are involved. The plot of the work is taken from the history of Rome. Emilia’s prototype was the Roman Virginia, who also wanted to make his famous mistress a politician, and she and her family opposed this. Despite the old plot, which is not so popular in our time, all the same, viewers are happy to come to watch the drama, and are happy to meet new television productions.


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