Hanschen is shown as confident, flirtatious, and pragmatic. He sees the reality of what is happening to the other children around him, and is not naive. He believes dreams are only fantasy, and are impractical.
Hanschen, like Melchior, is charismatic and intelligent. It is also evident that he, too, is much more knowledgeable about issues surrounding sexuality and the corruption of society when compared to the other children.
In the play, Hans is just as aware of the fakeness prevalent in his culture as Hanschen is in the musical, if not more so. However, while Hans believes that all adults are just pretending to be better than they really are, Hanschen believes and compels Ernst to believe that respectability, honesty, and integrity are all lies made up by adults to help them be happy with their own lives. Hans says that his ideal future is one full of pleasure and happiness, which was translated into the musical adaption as Hanschen telling Ernst that the ideal life is one of a bystander who merely 'skims the cream' rather than creating a fuss or overworking. It should be noted that in the musical, Hanschen is refers to taking advantage of the system rather than just despairing about the idiocy of it.
In contrast to Melchior, he does not, "rock the boat", and instead keeps his opinions to himself. He believes that not challenging the system and the people that enforce it will benefit him in the end; however, it is worthy to mention that he could be suppressing his opinions, or perhaps has this outlook after he did try to voice his opinion. This is not clear, but is hinted in Totally Fucked ("But, you're fucked if you speak your mind").
The line in Totally Fucked could also just be him proving his point, saying that it will screw you over if you try to stand against the status quo. Again, this is entirely up to interpretation.
Humorous classmate. Like Melchior, he also appears to be very intelligent, but uses his knowledge in favor of the school system in order to further his place in society in the future.
In the play he is shown to be very lyrical and romantic while still as cynical as he is in the musical. It is implied that he may be younger than the other boys as Melchior and Moritz refer to him as "little Hanschen Rilow." He is also more educated than the other boys. He shows a vast knowledge of Shakespeare and classical art (making many allusions to classical works during his "Desdemona" monologue as well as speaking in Latin). He was educated on sex by his governess at a very young age and so has a much more mature understanding of the adult world.
Fun Facts Edit
- Hanschen has no canonical sexual or romantic orientation, however Hanschen is shown to be attracted to both males (Ernst, Bobby Maler, etc.) and females (My Junk) in the musical.
- In the Deaf West production, at the end of Totally Fucked, Hanschen (played by Andy Mientus) takes down his pants and moons the audience. He then has to put his pants back on for the vineyard scene.
- In the middle of "My Junk," Hanschen masturbates to a post card with Coreggio's "Jupiter and Io" on it. He also makes an Othello reference by beginning the monologue with, "Have you prayed tonight, Desdemona?"
- Hänschen is the diminutive form of Hans, Hanschen's name in the play. In some translations of the play, the English equivalent of this nickname is used "Hansi" or "Hansy" depending on the text. Either name means the same thing as "Hänschen" and is simply there to clarify to a non-German speaking audience that his real name is Hans and is being referred to by a nickname. Sometimes Melchior and Moritz also refer to him as "Little Hansi Rilow" or "little Hänschen Rilow" depending on the translation implying he may be slightly younger/smaller than them.
- In the musical, his name is actually Hanschen (without the umlauted a), which is neither a nickname nor a real German name, for reasons unknown. There's a clear difference in pronunciation in the musical's Hanschen and the play's Hänschen, if the spelling wasn't enough to differentiate them.
- In "My Junk," there's a stage direction that says (As the song reaches a climax, so does HANSCHEN).
- Hanschen's attitude & feelings towards romance, life, and Ernst have become a source of controversy between individuals. Some see him as manipulative and abusive, and others as caring and genuine. Even within a single production, interpretations are vastly different, and this has led to conflict over the subject.
- He is implied to be very wealthy and cultured in the play.
- He canonically has a brother as mentioned in his Desdemona monologue in the original play.
- He has an entire monologue about fantasizing about murdering women in both versions
- In the musical his Desdemona monologue is particularly confusing because he recites the first line from the scene of Desdemona's murder in Othello and Sater has said that his postcard is supposed to be Correggio’s Io (who was a rape victim), but the painting that actually gets described is Palma Vecchio’s Venus, creating a weird mishmash of culture references that all seem sort of out of place.
- On Instagram Michael Arden confirmed that the woman painting a picture of a young boy during "My Junk" is Hanschen's mother painting him as a baby. As the woman is played by Marlee Matlin one can come to the conclusion that Hanschen, like Melchior, is a CODA (child of a deaf adult).