The action in the drama takes place in three Swiss cantons, which are located around the Firvaldshtetski Lake and were previously free, and now they are claimed by Austria. This led to a conflict between the Swiss and the Landsgoths (governors of the Austrian emperor). Residents of each of the three cantons have their resistance at first in different ways.
Among the peasants of the oldest canton, Werner Stauffacher is singled out, since “all the oppressed he is a father” and cares about the usefulness of his homeland. The events in the drama take place at the beginning of the fourteenth century, when the Austrian emperor died, and Albert Habsburg took his place, which did not confirm the old liberties of the shepherd the Swiss people, “like every emperor in front of him,” says Stauffacher. This was the immediate cause of the popular uprising. It becomes clear that only general actions of all three cantons are necessary for victory. How can this be achieved?
At the council in Rüttli (lawn on the western shore of the lake, the legendary cradle of Switzerland’s independence), Stauffacher says that all the Swiss are “of one and one blood kind”, “from one homeland like ours”. A dozen of the northern inhabitants of Germany came to the southern places where they settled among “these forests and the high mountains.” Schwitz, and then other Swiss cantons, formed this liberty, and the peasants affirmed that
In the old days, Stauffacher’s father-in-law, Iberg, was the cell of thought of the Schwick peasants, gathered the elders of the people who read parchments (“imperial letters that the Swiss gave freely to them”), reflected on the “welfare of the motherland.” Landfogt Gesler could guess that free Swiss bowed to him an Austrian hat (which was hung on poles attached to a pole), but the fact is that it hangs in Altorf (canton Uri). “Above the throne – where the lenas were handed out.” Stauffacher called for the “shame of the new yoke.” Werner is a true patriot of the people, he knows that “the duty of all free citizens is the state, their stronghold, to protect.” Stauffacher becomes one of the main organizers of the democratic unification of the cantons, the leader of the national liberation movement in Switzerland against the “violence of tyranny” Austria and its landfogts. Citizen and Democrat, he concludes that at a time when “a man becomes a wolf for man,” one can and should undertake a sword: “Rise for the motherland, For our wives and for, the children will rise!” Stauffacher himself is not a heroic individual, but he calls for an armed struggle against national enslavement.
The peasants of the three cantons vowed to act in concert against the Landgrafts and their servants. Winkelried (from Unterwalde) advised to start an uprising at Christmas, when it will be easier to get into Landfogt lands and capture them. With this agreed, in particular Stauffacher, who warned: “Endure! Let the wines of tyrants grow, But the day will come, and the common debt will be paid immediately. “He ends with words that dissociate the fighters from indifferent people. This is the plot of the plot. In the very beginning of the work the peasant Baumgarten fled the house, , defending the honor of the family and his own, the emperor’s deputy, with an ax, because he began to cling to his wife. In a skirmish with “his” landfogt, Melchtal also joined, who did not submit to his servant,
Hatred of Austrian oppressors, a willingness to fight for will intensify when Melchtal hears that the Landgate has gouged out his father’s eyes. Melchtal argues his “psychology” of the spontaneous protest “naturally”: “and even the ox, obedient to our chelyadin, pissed, beats a powerful horn and throws the enemy under the clouds.” Melchtal makes an offer to pass the law: “Anyone who advises Austria to comply, Let him be deprived and honor…” And everyone voted for this law, even the monastic peasants (serfs) from Unterwalden, present here, having decided that they too edge ready to defend. ” This is the power of patriotism of a working man. The peasants from Unterwalden are ready for battle, to capture the castles of Rosberg and Sarner before the emperor himself arrives with the army. “
In the center of the work is the image of the hunter William Tell. Already in the first stage of the drama he saves from the chase of Baumgarten. During the storm on the lake, Tell rescues another, fulfilling a human duty: “I am from the landfogt, maybe I will save you.” From the storm, let the other save us. “Tell seeks not only for social but also for spiritual freedom. The reckless hero dreams of heroism as a spiritual value, and this requires bold action. He says:” As a boat dies, it is easier to swim alone “; “In whom the strength is, that’s the strongest self.” As we see, Tell’s bravery is an example of the heroism of the individual: he says: “I can not help words, but when the real thing boils up – call Tell, and he will follow you.” Tell did not bow to the Austrian hat of Hesler, for which he was punished by an amazing order:
“Well, father, prove that you are Sagittarius!” The executioner does not believe in us, he wants to ruin us, shoot him and hit him with anger. “This scene is one of the central ones in the drama.” For a while, the internal struggle has been going on for Tell. “He responds with excitement to the order of the land plot:” You have made a terrible thing, sir.. I should do this from the head of the child… No, let God Keep you from such a father and really demand.
Gesler does not change his decisions, he does not joke. Tell in terrible excitement, hiding another arrow in his bosom shoots, and falls into the apple on his son’s head. For Stauffacher, the act of Tell is an excuse, a signal for battle. The drama of the work is most fully shown by this scene. Tel’s heroism is romantic. Prisoner Gesler, he is freed from the stumbling during a storm on the lake, escapes from the landfog and becomes an avenger. Tell poetizes freedom and sees his duty sacred in revenge to Hesler. Poetically thinking, William Tell sees himself as the executor of God’s will. Having chosen a convenient place for a shot at the roadside, according to which the land plot was supposed to go, Tell also becomes a witness of the clash between Gesler and the poor woman, Armgard, who on her knees wants to extort freedom for her imprisoned husband, but can not cause Gesler’s regrets even in the name of God: “… And when a woman and children rushes under a horse’s feet with a yell to Gesler:” … Davi me with my children… Let the unfortunate orphans trample your horse with forged hooves! You also made more evil crimes… “, Tell releases his treasured arrow, hitting the heart of the land plot, who managed to understand:” This is Tell’s shot, “and Tel himself sums it up:” I learned archers, there are no others here! Freedom is a wretched house, peace is to the innocent! The goal is the same: the oppressor is killed, the people are free. The art of the Alpine archer from God But Tell is not only an avenger. This hero is not only romantic but also realistic: he is an economic peasant, a hunter and an archer, a caring father and husband, he is a humane person. “His conviction:” … If you want to get through in life, prepare for defense… “;” And then only have joy from life, when every day I struggle and get. ” Tell has a kind and sensitive heart. So he helps everyone. This is deeply felt by his wife, and therefore says that he “will be sent to where there is danger.”
William Tell’s father-in-law feels the strength of his son-in-law, his courage, defends him before his daughter, who did not understand that he “was torn to pieces with a heart and soul, under the pain of death.” The canton of Uri inflames the fire of rebellion, which was ignited by Telle and continued Melchtal and other peasants: “Rosber has long been defeated, and from Sarnen there was only ash,” in which not the least role was played by Rudenz, the nephew of Baron Switzerland Attinghausen. This motif of victory is summed up by one of the organizers of the fight, Walter Furst: “Freedom. Look, this is a real holiday! He will not forget in his old age! “.
In addition to the images of William Tell and the insurgent peasants, representatives of other social strata will play a tremendous role in the embodiment of the artistic idea of the work. Frankly negative character appears governor of the emperor Gesler. The wife of Stauffacher – Gertrude explains the reasons for his inhuman malice and cruelty:
“And Gesler – the youngest in the family, Only the knight’s cloak, he owns, Therefore, for the happiness of an honest man He glances sideways with an evil eye.”
This is a self-assured, cruel executioner of the Swiss people. Gesler, Landenberg and other Landgraves are ready to swear allegiance to the new Emperor Albrecht (Austria). Gesler with hatred refers to the Swiss, waiting for them only obedience:
“I’ll break their stubborn tenacity, A cheeky spirit of freedom I’ll crush.”
Rudenz took an unstable position. In love with the rich Bertha Brunek, he loses the landmarks and is ready to swear to the Austrian rulers for her too. But on the way to this first becomes a native uncle, who notices. Reflected, Rudenz enters into a dispute with Gesler (when he mocks Telle):
“Such people do not deserve cruelty – you have no right to this…”
After the second shot of Tell, Rudenz becomes one of the leaders of the peasant uprising:
“I returned to my family.