I am writing an essay on Fontane's, Effi Briest and I am trying to compare her character change with gender roles of women during the time period. Any major suggestions on how to approach the paper? 

Expert Answers
Natalie Saaris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way to approach your paper would be to look at the major themes that define Effi's character and situation:

  • Her arranged marriage at the age of sixteen to Baron von Innstetten, a much older man.
  • Her passivity: Effi is defined by the actions that are done to her. Rather than being an active agent in her own life, her fate is decided by forces outsider her control.
  • Her rejection by her family following the news that Effi has had an illicit affair with Crampas. 

Many of the traits that contribute to Effi's tragic situation are drawn from real-life figures and historic "types". Fontane based Effi's story on an article he read in the newspaper. The other characters are drawn from the society of Fontane's time and reflect the mores of his time.

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Effi Briest

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