As the soldier Wozzeck shaves his Captain, the latter makes fun of him and reproaches him for having a child out of wedlock with Marie. Wozzeck admits that he is too poor to be gifted with a sense of morality.
Wozzeck is gripped by dark hallucinations. His friend Andres tries in vain to calm him. Marie sings a lullaby to her son. When Wozzeck arrives, he still seems to be under the influence of his troublesome visions.
The soldier serves as a guinea pig for the Doctor’s experiments and seems to be drifting increasingly towards madness.
Wozzeck seems possessed by the idea that Marie may have been unfaithful to him.
During a ball, the Drum-Major dances with Marie as a hapless Wozzeck looks on. Haunted by the sight, the soldier is unable to sleep. The Drum-Major arrives back at the barracks drunk. He boasts about his conquest and provokes Wozzeck.
Marie reads the story of Mary Magdalene in the Bible and begs for God’s mercy.
Wozzeck believes he sees a red moon rising and the vision makes him think of blood: He kills Marie. After having taken flight, he returns to the scene of the crime to look for the weapon that could betray him. Haunted by his hallucinations, he walks into the lake and drowns. The Captain and the Doctor hear his groans but choose to walk away.
The children shout to Marie’s son that his mother is dead. Impervious, the little boy continues to play.