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A German Classic: Schiller's Maria Stuart

A German Classic 2018: Schiller's Maria Stuart

Oxford German Network's essay competition for sixth-formers was created through the generous sponsorship of Jonathan Gaisman, QC, and aims to stimulate interest in great German writers and influential literary works in German. This year’s text was one of these most important works of Weimar Classicism: Friedrich Schiller’s Maria Stuart

We should like to thank the judges and all those people who enriched the resources that helped to bring Schiller’s Maria Stuart alive. This year’s resources created for the competition include an in depth discussion of the pivotal scene in the play and a podcast featuring two undergraduate students at Oxford who comment on the recent production of Mary Stuart that toured the UK in early 2018. Also provided on the Oxford German Network YouTube Channel are links to existing recorded material on Maria Stuart, and other resources include links to written material. All these resources will remain available on our website to encourage students to engage further with Maria Stuart. 

Above all, we should like to thank all the entrants from schools across the UK who gave up part of their summer to write impressive and stimulating essays on various aspects of Maria Stuart. The judges were impressed with the high quality of all the entries, and with the level of intellectual engagement, ambition and independent thought displayed by the entrants. Head judge Professor Ritchie Robertson commented: “Once again a classic work, this time Schiller's Maria Stuart, has inspired some essays of high quality, with many impressive signs of independent thought and work, especially about the concept of tragedy and about the play's leading personalities.”

We are pleased to announce the following prizes:

First Prize (£500):           Sam Newton 

                                           Colchester Royal Grammar School

Second Prize (£300):      Tom Leslie

                                           Fortrose Academy

Third Prize (£100):          Charles Carr

                                           Bennett Memorial Diocesan School

The essay by Max Bamford, Bilborough Sixth Form College, was awarded Highly Commended by the judges, and the essays by Akshat Pranesh, Manchester Grammar School, and Phoebe Clark, Lady Eleanor Holles School, were awarded Commended by the judges.

Congratulations to all the winners and to all the entrants. The essays were a pleasure to read.

Fancy exploring beyond the text of Schiller's Maria Stuart? Have a look here for further suggestions for reading. The Oxford German Network has put together a playlist on Maria Stuart, and includes podcasts created especially for the competition and other useful videos on the play. 

Essay Questions from the 2018 Prize Competition:

1. Who is the more tragic character, Maria or Elisabeth?

2. 'Der Thron von England ist durch einen Bastard/entweiht' (Act III, Scene 4). To what extent is Maria Stuart about a crisis of royal legitimacy?

3. In Maria Stuart, do women in power have to forsake their sexuality?

4. What significance do the male characters have in Maria Stuart?

5. Compare Schiller's portrayal of Maria and Elisabeth with their historical counterparts.