Fear (Angst) - Stefan Zweig
Categories:History & Criticism
Fear (Angst) Analysis
Fear by Stefan Zweig is a psychological thriller. I can still feel traces of Irene’s fear and Fritz’s sceptical approach at her. Fear(Angst) is a short story, but it leaves me wanting for more. The most important point for me was how well Stefan Zweig described the inside of the characters’ minds, how he painted a picture of their psychological condition. No matter what, Stefan Zweig leaves a little present for us to discover at the end of the book, Fear.
Fear (Angst) Short Summary
"To appreciate what we own, sometimes we have to spend a little time on the edge of losing them."
Irene has an amazing husband and two beautiful children, fruits of their 8 years of marriage. The couple is wealthy; wealthy enough to have servants to clean and look after the kids. She spends most of her time at ballrooms, theatres and charity events herself.
Irene’s life gradually becomes so monotonous that she gets bored of it at some point. She becomes a woman who is not satisfied with what she owns. One night, at an event of course, she meets Eduard, a talented pianist, and they start seeing each other. As they formed a bound, Irene has a feeling of guilt growing inside her for cheating on her husband and breaking the sacred vow of marriage.
One day, as Irene left Eduard’s apartment, a woman gets in the way and starts asking questions; questioning the woman who dared to charm her lover away. Hiding her identity behind the comfort of the thick veil that covers her face, Irene hands some money to the woman and leaves the scene immediately.
Irene suffers from the guilt of what she’d done. Being caught by the anonymous woman makes things only worse. She makes a decision as to never see her lover again and sends a letter to notify him about it. They plan a last date in the patisserie, but the woman finds Irene again and starts blackmailing her.
She periodically sends letters to Irene, requesting her to put some amount of money in the envelope and sends it back.
Irene’s first urge is to resist. She comes up with ways to get rid of her, but the fear she feels upon seeing the woman’s face makes everything more complicated than it already is.
Irene solely wanted to go on an adventure. She needed this to feel alive. Not to love, not to be loved…only to feel alive. She wanted to experience a powerful feeling for once, but she didn’t wish for all this pain.
In fear of the woman, Irene starts spending more of her time at home. This, of course, doesn’t go unnoticed by the servants, and her husband. Her husband Fritz, one of the best lawyers in the town, acted as if he knew everything and he was trying to talk her into confession, sometimes with his endless sincerity, and sometimes with his fierce gaze.
One letter follows the other. Irene pays whatever she can to keep the woman silent. When she runs out of money, Irene pledges her engagement ring as a last resort. However, she feels herself choked out of breath by her own feelings. She seeks for the woman to get her ring back but she is nowhere to be found; as if she vanished into thin air.
Suicide is the only exit for Irene now. She makes a last effort to find the woman, finds herself at the drug store instead. She buys the small bottle of liquid that would put an end to her story.
She couldn’t fight the guilt and the nightmares anymore. She now knows what she should’ve held onto, what she truly owned. Her partner of 8 years reading in a soothing voice, the vivid laughter of her kids, beauty of the trinkets decorating her home… She finally knows how important they were to her, as she stands on the edge of a cliff, ready to jump.
She couldn’t find the woman. She paid a short visit to Eduard to ask about the woman, but he claims he never had such a lover; he didn’t know her. Certain to commit suicide, Irene walks back to the drug store to get the bottle; but she bumps into her husband. Or should I say, her husband bumps into her?