Hebbel, Christian Friedrich (krĭsˈtyän frēˈdrĭkh hĕbˈəl) [key], 1813–63, German tragic dramatist. Born poor, he was largely self-educated. Hegel's historical theories influenced his work, which is a link between romantic and realist drama. Hebbel's first play, Judith (1840, tr. 1914), introduced a new type of tragic character, heroic through degradation and retribution rather than through virtue. Other works include Maria Magdalena (1844, tr. 1913–15); the historical tragedies Herod and Mariamne (1850, tr. 1912) and Agnes Bernauer (1852, tr. 1909); Gyges and His Ring (1856, tr. 1914); and the great trilogy The Nibelungs (1862, tr. 1903). His tragedies contain much violent emotion, and they usually portray a struggle between old and new sets of values.
See studies by S. G. Flygt (1968) and M. Garland (1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.