Spring's Awakening: A Children's Tragedy Summary
The play focuses on the confusion and frustration that surrounds puberty. The group of main characters are mostly young adults - Wendla is starting to show a figure, but insists on still dressing as a child. Moritz is curious about sex and relies on his older friend Melchior to explain the process. Melchior writes the process for his friend. Melchior and Wendla are starting to have feelings for one another but neither one really understands what that means. Wendla and Melchior meet in a hayloft. The initial flirting turns into Melchior becoming more and more aroused. Despite Wendla's protests against the kissing, things progress, and they have sex. (She is raped.) Wendla, who has never been told what sex is, asks God to explain what happened. It turns out that she is pregnant.
Moritz's story becomes tragic as his worries about failing school and being expelled begin to progress. (He discovered that he is on the knife's edge of being dismissed from school because the next year's classroom can only hold 60 students.) His grades continue to decline mostly due to the fact that he is feeling sexual stirrings that make him distracted in the classroom. His effort to escape to America fails when Melchior's mother refuses to send the money. Moritz decides to shoot himself when he finds out he will not pass, since he can't handle his parents' disappointment. Ilse, a somewhat promiscuous girl who ran away to be a Bohemian, finds him on the edge of suicide and offers to take him in. He says no and commits suicide. Ilse discovers the gun Moritz used and hides it.
The school investigates the death of Moritz and discovers Melchior's written explanation about sex. Melchior is expelled without a chance to explain. During the funeral for Moritz, the boy is disowned and Ilse's secret is revealed to a fellow student, Martha. In the meantime a second letter from Melchior to Wendla arrives, apologizing for the rape. Melchior's parents face not only the expulsion but also discover the pregnancy of Wendla, and choose to send their son to reform school. There he gets a whole new education when the boys at the school discover a letter from Wendla and masturbate to it.
In the mean time, Wendla dies when her mother gives her abortion pills, after calling her a sinner for her experience with Melchior. Melchior escapes the reformatory and goes to the graveyard to visit Wendla's tombstone. There he considers suicide. The ghost of Moritz appears and encourages Melchior to kill himself. A masked man appears and talks with Melchior. Moritz is forced to admit that death is unbearable. The masked man also reveals that Wendla's death was due to a unnecessary abortion and he convinces Melchior to remain alive. Moritz says goodbye as Melchior and the masked man exit the stage.