re: Does Melchior rape Wendla in SPRING AWAKENING?**SPOILERS**

The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
I did a search, but no one seems to have really discussed this in detail. I just saw the musical for the first time tonight, and although I really enjoyed it, I was greatly disturbed that the sex scene at the end of the first act did not appear to be consensual. I know from people's previous posts that the blocking where Wendla says "yes" and places Melchior's hand on her breast was added to the Broadway production to make it appear more consensual, but to me it seemed that Wendla did NOT want Melchior to go as far as he did, and that technically speaking, he raped her.

Can anyone support or deny this using evidence from the script/staging? This is really bothering me!
shesamarshmallow
Broadway Legend
joined:3/23/06
I definitely participated in a heated discussion on the board on this topic. Too lazy to go find it.

Basically, I said he essentially raped her because he knew about sex and the consequences and she didn't, regardless of whether she says yes at that time.
And everyone else said that it was ok because Wendla loved Melchior.
And I banged my head against the wall. Repeatedly.
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shesamarshmallow
Broadway Legend
joined:3/23/06
gertrudejessalynn
Broadway Legend
joined:8/6/05
I knew there had to be a discussion already! I'm going to do myself a favor and not read that thread.

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Updated On: 3/23/07 at 03:13 AM
eatlasagna
Broadway Legend
joined:10/6/04
ummm... it would've been nice if you didn't include actualy plot points in the subject... i wanted to see this show when i went to new york and i'm assuming you gave away a huge plot point! thanks.... geez
gumbo2
Broadway Legend
joined:8/21/05
Spoiler I guess, though I don't know how someone could not know that Spring Awakening involves sex at this point, considering that it's on just about all the promotional features and the cover of their playbill.




I haven't read the original script, but my friends who have read it say that it would definitely be considered rape in Wenekind's original version, and they toned it down for the musical.
The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
Well, sorry, but I imagine most people going to see the show would know that it's about sexual discovery, and that therefore characters in the play have sex. I mean, look at the LOGO for the show. I don't think I'm spoiling anything too badly here.

EDIT: gumbo2 beat me to it...
Updated On: 3/23/07 at 03:57 AM
gumbo2
Broadway Legend
joined:8/21/05
Ha, we posted that at the same time, but yes, exactly.
The Distinctive Baritone
Broadway Legend
joined:8/28/04
And then you posted again as I was editing my message. We must have a psychic connection, you and I
gumbo2
Broadway Legend
joined:8/21/05
Hahaha...I think factors would be: It is extremely late, aaaand I am currently in Sweeney Todd, which seems to be a major theme in both your name and avatar. The world works in mysterious ways, friend. Anyway...good night.
BroadwayPenguin2
Stand-by
joined:12/29/06
In the old script, the last work she says before black out is "NO!" underlined too...

What does it say in the original play?
millie_dillmount
Broadway Legend
joined:4/22/04
"ummm... it would've been nice if you didn't include actualy plot points in the subject... i wanted to see this show when i went to new york and i'm assuming you gave away a huge plot point! thanks.... geez"

Well, it is pretty obvious if you look at the picture in the show's logo...it's not a huge plot point that is going to ruin anything for you.
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
eatlasagna
Broadway Legend
joined:10/6/04
i actually haven't seen the logo... all i know is that it's about sex and is like some new version of RENT... a rape sequence never once entered my mind... when i think of sex i don't automatically think of rape... oh well i guess

oh that and you mentioned names in the actual subject heading... maybe i would have been less upset in not knowing who did what in the actual musical
Updated On: 3/23/07 at 06:17 AM
AnnaB
Understudy
joined:8/5/04
In the original play she doesn't consent it. The last line of that scene is from Wendla who protests "O Melchior! Don't, don't"
mint0621
Broadway Star
joined:10/10/04
Yes, it is rape.

This occurs a lot in the world today; women in conservative countries are (even now) not told about sex & when they marry, it is essentially legalized rape.


Updated On: 3/23/07 at 08:18 AM
paphillyguy
Leading Actor
joined:1/5/05
I the Atlantic version off broadway, it was played more toward the rape side, I thought. It is lessened in the Broadway version
doodlenyc
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/04
She wanted it!
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sidjones09
Leading Actor
joined:1/4/07
"In the Atlantic version off broadway, it was played more toward the rape side, I thought. It is lessened in the Broadway version "

This is true. The Atlantic version was in fact played as a rape as it is written in Wedekind's play. But I'm assuming the producers and/or Michael Mayer decided they needed to make it consensual for Broadway audiences.
"If you've got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you're learning to say it better." - David Mamet
Wanna Be A Foster
Broadway Legend
joined:1/9/05
The Distinctive Baritone, please change the title of the thread. It's really disrespectful to people who have not yet seen the show the way you have it titled right now.
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CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
It's called Coping out.
sidjones09
Leading Actor
joined:1/4/07
Agreed. CurtainPullDowner
"If you've got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you're learning to say it better." - David Mamet
sweetestsiren
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/05
Basically, I said he essentially raped her because he knew about sex and the consequences and she didn't, regardless of whether she says yes at that time.

Agreed, totally. Part of consent is knowing what you're getting into, and Wendla obviously had no idea. They might've been the same age, but he's clearly the more informed and experienced of the two, and so it's still predatory on his part.

I also agree that it's a cop-out to change the scene so that she "consents" at the last second. I gather that we're supposed to like Melchior more than we would have if she had said no, but I didn't, and I wish that they had just gone all the way and portrayed it as rape. Melchior would've been a far more interesting character if he weren't shoehorned into being the unambiguous "hero" of the piece.
Updated On: 3/23/07 at 10:37 AM
Becoz_i_knew_you21
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/06
If Mechoir had clearly raped Wendla you wouldn't feel for him in the end. Off-Broadway was more rape-ish than Broadway. They wanted to make that scene more consensual on Broadway. Micheal Mayer said he didn't want the only representation on sex of be rape. Anyway's I think it kind of is rape because Wendla consents like halfway through.
Updated On: 3/23/07 at 10:52 AM
iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
No means no. It doesn't mean to convince me when I say no. It means no.

In the original play, yes, it was a rape.
Here, trying to be darling and make the handsome Melchior a sweetheart, they make it... consensual? Sort of?

It's always distrubed me that they tread so lightly and delicately over the issue of rape.
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muscle23ftl
Broadway Legend
joined:12/19/04
It's not rape.
She gives in, she wanted him.
She said no in the beginning just because of the social pressure she faced in that time.
"People have their opinions and that doesn't mean that their opinions are wrong or right. I just take it with a grain of salt because opinions are like as*holes, everyone has one". -Felicia Finley-
BBBoy
Chorus Member
joined:2/2/05
**SPOILERS**

I thought it was a very big mistake to make the rape in SA ambiguous in any way in the transfer from off-bway to Broadway. A distinct theme in the play (and the musical as well - one of most interesting I feel) is how blossoming sexual energy in a repressed society is bottled up and redirected in unusual ways.

Melchior knows what sex is. He is a smart, if slightly rebellious young man, but he is always in control of himself. He knows that with his knowledge comes great responsibility.

But when Wendla asks him to strike her with the switch, we suddenly see the extent of his own personal emotional repression. He loses control - becomes masochistic, abusive, and enraged. But he is also empowered by it, and that is what leads him to rape Wendla - attaining his own sexual freedom through force and violence. It is part of his sexual awakening - to give in to the base desires of his blossoming sexuality.

Turning the rape into a psuedo-consensual act turns what is a potent analysis of the extremes of sexuality into a simple and boring love story. It also creates a number of problems with his character. There needs to be a justifiable explanation as to how Melchior, in all of his wisdom, would just go ahead and do the deed with Wendla without being wary of the consequences. The act, as currently portrayed, deprives Melchior of the intelligence that was key to his character up to that point. For the rest of Act II, he is turned in to a soppy, love stricken romantic, who is merely jazzed (if a little surprised) at the news of his impending fatherhood. There's a goldmine of thematic potential there that is never even touched.

Nonetheless, no matter what way you put it - it is still rape - simply because Melchior knows what he is doing, Wendla doesn't, and he seems pretty lucid while he is doing it. Returning it back to a moment of sexual agression (as it is in the original play) would both justify the event itself, and I don't feel it would turn Melchior into an unsympathetic character (as it also works out in the play).

We understand that, despite Melchior's intelligence, he is still a young man learning to battle the growth of his sexual desires in a repressive society, and any act of emotional rebellion (yes - including rape) is forgiveable considering the context of the play. He is still our hero, because he has never been, despite his hopes, in complete control of his life/world. It is his battle and journey to find his place in the world and within himself, and the rape is an important part of that.

Making it consensual just makes it boring, and I think really sabotages the second act.