The Wandering Scholar from Paradise Characters

Hans Sachs

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The Wandering Scholar

The Wandering Scholar, a witty, unscrupulous student from Paris. Taking advantage of the mistake of a simpleminded widow, who misunderstands his origin as “Paradise” instead of “Paris,” he plays on her sympathies for her departed first husband to wheedle goods and money from her to take to the poor man in Paradise. When the widow’s present husband chases him, he hides the bundle and his identifying yellow scarf, sends the husband on foot across a bog while he “watches the horse,” and then rides merrily away, praising the generosity of both wife and husband.

The Wife

The Wife, a simpleminded and good-hearted widow. Remembering with affection her open-handed first husband, and weary of her skinflint second, she sends goods and money to Paradise by the Scholar. The second husband chases the Scholar in anger but returns to tell her that he gave the Scholar his horse to shorten the travel to Paradise. At that news, she is carried away with affectionate rapture and expresses a hope that she will be able to outlive him and send him goods in Paradise.

The Husband

The Husband, a grouchy, tightfisted farmer. His anger at his wife for being tricked by the Scholar gives way to shame when he himself is taken in and loses the horse. He accepts her affection as a balance for her stupidity.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Garland, H. B. “The Sixteenth Century.” In A Concise Survey of German Literature. Coral Gables, Fla.: University of Miami Press, 1971. Places Sachs in the context of the contemporary Protestant burghers of Nuremberg and Augsburg and discusses the prominence given the poet by Richard Wagner’s opera. Claims that Sachs’s influence has less to do with his writing than with Wagner’s famous portrayal.

Liptzin, Sol. “Early German Literature.” In Historical Survey of German Literature. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1936. Discusses the Meistersinger guilds of sixteenth century Germany and points out Sachs’s mastery in such Shrovetide plays as The Wandering Scholar from Paradise.

Merkel, Ingrid. “Literature of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century.” In The Challenge of German Literature, edited by Horst S. Daemmrich and Dieter H. Haenicke. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1971. Discusses Sachs’s regeneration of the Shrovetide play, claiming that his structure, lively dialogue, and realistic characterizations might have laid the groundwork for German comedy but that he had no successors.

Robertson, J. G., and Dorothy Reich. “The Drama in the Sixteenth Century.” In A History of German Literature. 6th ed., edited by Dorothy Reich with the assistance of W. I. Lucas et al. Elmsford, N.Y.: London House and Maxwell, 1970. Robertson and Reich declare that Sachs was the most prolific humanist dramatist and created new forms. Conclude that The Wandering Scholar from Paradise is one of the best extant Shrovetide plays.

Rose, Ernest. “The Parabolic and Didactic Style: Middle Class Literature.” In A History of German Literature. New York: New York University Press, 1960. Discusses the strengths and limitations of Sachs’s verse and dramas, and concedes that his Shrovetide plays were lively and amusing both to contemporary and modern audiences.