Review of Grimmelshausen, The Adventures of a Simpleton
Set during the Thirty Years War, predominately in war torn Germany, Grimmelshausen’s The Adventures of a Simpleton has significant historical context. There are huge differences in the social classes, either being very wealthy or desperately poor. The poor had little or nothing, and usually what they did have was soon taken by thieves and military men. The wealthy would gain more wealth by taking what they wanted, mostly at the cost of the poor. Politics changed depending on who had control of your lands, mostly nobles, who had chosen a side of the war, but mostly fought for their own gain. A war involving several countries throughout Europe was taking place, as too was a civil war within Germany. The area, and land itself, were very badly destroyed. Disease and famine were common. Because of the brutality, much of the land could not be used for farming; peasant farmers were fleeing their homes for safety of the villages. Medical and technological advances were being made, but slow in getting to the war torn countryside. This was a place where the wealthy lived lavishly and without care, while the impoverished lived day to day.
The hero of the story is called Simpleton because he was, at first, simple. He was ignorant to the ways of the moral and economic corrupt world. At the beginning of the story Simplicissimus only ambition is to herd his fathers sheep without loosing any to a wolf, in which he had no clue what one was. In fact, he is so ignorant that he mistakes soldiers on horseback for a wolf his father had warned him about. He had known only the ways of his farm, in fact he did not know of any other people besides those on his father’s farm. The author uses this to his advantage to point out that even the most ignorant are capable of learning, and with that corruption. His name, Simplicissimus, also became a way of fooling people. When someone of higher birth heard his name, they...