Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Wolf's Cassandra shows the influence of Wolf's childhood upbringing in Nazi Germany and her subsequent rejection and abhorrence of fascist ideology. Cassandra can be read as a veiled account of a state turned fascist, and Cassandra herself as a person of humane decency who (like Wolf herself) utterly rejects the "heroic" patriarchy of a warrior society.
Wolf spent much of her adult life fearing a return of Nazism. She stayed in East Germany when much of her family fled West (when that was still possible in the 1950s) because she felt a strong socialist East Germany was the only bulwark against the return of Nazism. She opposed German reunification, feeling it was too dangerous to risk given Germany's violent past.
As with Nazi Germany, Cassandra's state of Troy uses war to break down the joint male- and female-run state and establish an aggressive patriarchy that diminishes women's rights. As does Nazi Germany, Troy lies about the reasons for the war: it becomes clear to Cassandra that Helen, the ostensible cause of the fighting, is not even in Troy. Also like Nazi Germany, Troy suffers a terrible defeat.
Having seen the devastation a war can bring, Wolf was strongly anti-war in her personal life, as described in her autobiographical novel, Patterns of Childhood. She was annoyed at many Germans she knew for not facing their complicity with Germany's holocaust and war crimes, instead complaining "why do they always blame us?" Cassandra, in contrast, is famous as the figure in classical literature who knew the truth but to whom know no one would listen: Wolf often felt that way in her own life as she spoke out fearlessly against patriarchy, war, and injustice.