Lt. Gustl – Well, that escalated quickly…

Lieutenant Gustl is a story written completely in interior monologue, and was the first novel of the sort to be published. In this style, the reader gets to know the setting solely as it is described by the protagonist, Gustl, and we are exposed to his views and biases. This story also differs from other stories in that the protagonist undergoes almost no character development throughout the course of the circular plot line – most of which is spent on the Lieutenant deciding to commit suicide after a confrontation that had many readers thinking, “well, that escalated quickly”. While it can seem that there is nothing going on in this story, there is actually a lot being said.  Lieutenant Gustl is a character quite opposite from the author, Arthur Schnitzler, who was a Jewish Doctor who was involved in the military.  With this in mind it is much easier to understand the satirical comments being made throughout the novel underneath its dark comedy.

All this being said, is Lieutenant Gustl an effective work of satire? Was this story an effective way for Schnitzler to convey his views of Viennese culture and anti-Semitism?

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