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Egmont by Goethe (Summary) - Summary of Egmont Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Egmont by Johann Wolfgang Goethe


First Act

At the beginning, there are some people, who talk about Egmont’s fearful skills. One of those guys is a soldier, who fought with Egmont in several battles. He also talks about the qualities of the general.

The play often shifts the place, where also the personage changes. The second plot is with the female regent and her advisor, Machiavell. She talks about the problems in her kingdom and how hard it was to civilise all the people. They also talk about Egmont’s easy-going nature, which the queen doesn’t really like.

The last plot is with the young girl Klärchen, a man, who’s in love with Klärchen and Klärchen ‘s mother. Klärchen is supposedly the lover of Egmont and she also loves Egmont. The man, Brackenburg, has fallen in love with Klärchen a long time ago and he knows her feelings towards Egmont. That’s why he didn’t want to propose to her.

Second Act

The kingdom is threatened by a Spanish army, which is on the way. The people in the beginning are talking about the upcoming threat and they start a row in the tavern. Then, Egmont comes and they stop fighting. Egmont makes them hope, that the threat will be battled. (In order to understand this threat, one has to know the historical context in the play. The regent has been appointed several states by her brother, who is the king of Spain. It took her a long time to build a peaceful life and now, she should be forced to abdicate and someone else, who will reign in terror, should take over.)

In Egmont’s apartment, his writer has already been waiting for him for two hours. There are several letters for him, which he has to answer. Most of them, Egmont simply says that his writer should leave them be, but there is one important letter from a count. Egmont says the letter should wait until tomorrow, because there is no time for an answer, since his friend Oranien is coming. There is also a letter from a man, who raised Egmont. In this letter, the reader finds out more about Egmont’s nature and the concerns of his father.

When Oranien arrives, they discuss what to do next, because the count is from Spain would drop all the rights and privileges of both the people and the nobility. Egmont also asks Oranien, how the regent is doing.

Quick Poll on Egmont

Egmont and Klärchen


Third Act

The queen is informed that the king from Spain is sending a count who will take over the regime. The regent knows that she can’t do anything against this decision and discusses with Machiavell what to do. She decides to leave the town.

Klärchen is visited by Egmont and she is very happy to see him, but she was also sad that he was away for a very long time. She isn’t sure anymore if Egmont loves her. That’s why she wants to know this and to have a comparison or a proof of Egmont’s love. Another thing, which she isn’t sure about are his feelings towards the regent. It seems that also the regent has romantic feelings towards Egmont, but he says that he doesn’t care and that his friend Oranien would be suited a lot more than he does anyway, so Klärchen doesn’t have to fear anything.

Forth Act

In the count’s residence, the count plans how to capture Egmont and Oranien and how to execute them. His son, who is already really excited to meet Egmont, also gets to know about his plans and which role he plays in it.

Egmont arrives at the residence without Oranien, who found it smarter to stay away from him as long as possible. After some talking, Egmont is captured by the count and his allegiance.

Fifth Act

Klärchen hears that Egmont is captured and should be killed very soon. She wants to motivate some people to help her go and save Egmont, but it’s all for nothing. The people can’t even talk freely, because everywhere, there are troops and if someone says something suspicious he will be thrown in jail and might even be killed. Klärchen becomes very depressed. At her home, she’s visited by Brackenburg at night. He stops her from committing suicide with a poison, but in the end, she tells him that he has to take care of her mother and she goes in her room to commit suicide.

Egmont is in a dungeon in a cell all by himself. He is informed by Silva, one of the count’s soldiers, that he will be headed in the morning. The count’s son, Ferdinand, stays a while with Egmont and they talk together that he wants to help him get out, but he can’t. He sadly has to make clear that there is no way out for Egmont.

Egmont falls asleep and a really weird scene happens: Freedom comes to Egmont, who commiserates with Egmont, because he is going to die. But he calls him to be happy, because his death will bring freedom to the kingdom, for what Egmont has been fighting all the time and standing for. That’s why Egmont is the winner in the end. The scene ends with drumming and Egmont sees his end coming nearer and nearer. He has a quick deep speech and the play ends with victorious music.

Stefan Zweig – Fear

Hermann Hesse – the Steppenwolf

Hermann Hesse – Siddharta

Hermann Hesse – Demian

Hermann Hesse – Narcissus and Goldmund

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Hermann Hesse – Glass Bead Game

Jean-Paul Sartre – Huis Clos

Molière – The Imaginary Invalid

William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Bernand Shaw – Pygmalion

Vsevolod Garshin – A red flower

Viktor Pelevin – The life of insects

Tolstoy – The Death of Ivan Ilyich

More Summaries

Novalis – Heinrich von Ofterdingen

Goethe – Faust I

Goethe – Clavigo

Goethe – Iphigenie auf Tauris

Goethe – Egmont

Goethe – Stella

E.T.A Hoffmann – The Sandman

Joseph von Eichendorff – Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts

Joseph von Eichendorff – The Marble Statue

Joseph von Eichendorff – Schloss Dürande

Georg Büchner – Woyzeck

The Last Meeting of Egmont with his friend William from Orange


© 2013 Slaven Cvijetic


pierceGraham on May 17, 2018:

This summary is obviously a terrible translation, probably from German or Dutch, which confuses the reader.

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