Heinrich von Kleist Drama Analysis
In Heinrich von Kleist’s works, extremes of emotion, often combined with natural catastrophes or war, illumine the contradictions inherent in the human condition. Kleist was especially concerned with the limits of human knowledge and its interplay with other modes of perception, such as intuition, instinct, and the operations of the unconscious mind.
The Feud of the Schroffensteins
The great stress laid on family relationships in Kleist’s novellas, as well as in his play The Feud of the Schroffensteins, suggests that family motifs in the other plays emanate from a single family theme. Rupert Schroffenstein, for example, seems to return in the dark excesses and desperation of Amphitryon, Piachi (“The Foundling”), and to some extent Michael Kohlhaas. The innocence and inner serenity of Kathy, Agnes, Alkmene, and the Marquise of O seem similar or identical.
Much has been written about the unsolved mystery of Kleist, especially his penchant for constructing metaphysical analogies without revealing the key. Family relationships connect people without their volition, sometimes without their knowledge. To examine the often mysterious workings of the family in Kleist’s works may serve to clarify some other Kleistian mysteries, such as the interplay of truth, human knowledge, perception, intuition, and the unconscious. An investigation of the role of the family in Kleist’s works must necessarily start with...
(The entire section is 4433 words.)
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