In 1833, the medical student and poet Georg Büchner leaves his lover Louise behind in Strasbourg and returns to his Hessian homeland, a hotbed of violent political struggles. In Hesse he meets clergyman Ludwig Weidig, head of the revolutionary conspiracy. Together they found the Society for Human Rights and write the "Hessian National Messenger," an information pamphlet for the masses.
After Weidig and another friend are arrested, the fugitive Büchner goes back to Louise in Strasbourg, where he finishes Dantons Tod (Danton's Death) before fleeing to Zürich. There he writes Woyzeck before dying from typhoid fever at the age of 23.