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Marschner's villains occupy an important place in the history of operatic style, forming a bridge between characters such as Dourlinski or Pizarro and Wotan or the Dutchman. His villains may also be understood against the background of early nineteenth-century pathology, and particularly the syndrome of ‘monomania’. Marschner's music, which partially ‘heroicizes’ the villains in keeping with the contemporary rise of the sympathetic villain, parallels efforts to redefine the nature of madness. Marschner's operas could thus simultaneously construct and undermine the hegemony of bourgeois values, and become a vehicle through which composers, performers, and audiences could explore the contradiction between social/sexual order and the fantasy of deviance.