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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 305

The Prince of Homburg by Heinrich von Kleist is a play that details a war between Germany and Sweden. Prince Frederick Arthur of Homburg is a military leader who has just returned from a battle and is preparing to go into another one. While he is taking a brief respite in Fehrbellin, he begins to act strangely; he weaves a laurel wreath which the elector takes from him, and he snatches one of Natalie's gloves.

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The next battle does not go well for the prince. When the battle orders were given, he was distracted by Natalie, whom he is in love with. Because of this, he gives the wrong orders to his men and they do not perform their duties properly. The elector is thought to be dead, though it turns out that he survived. The elector sees that the prince failed to follow orders and he sentences him to death.

The prince is allowed to see the electress, and he makes his case to her. She agrees with him and decides to help Natalie plea for the prince's life. A hearing happens, where the blame is passed around, but ultimately the elector relents, giving the prince an opportunity to make his case if he believes his punishment to be unjust. However, the prince has come to see that he was at fault in the battle so he turns down the offer. He is eventually brought before the elector where, though he is prepared to accept his sentence and die, he does plead his case. Here, he finds out that one of the terms of peace is that Natalie will be married to a Swedish lord. The prince begs the elector to reconsider. The elector relents, destroys the death warrant, orders the troops back to the battlefield, and the prince is seen as a hero.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 969

After three days spent heading a cavalry charge in pursuit of the Swedes, Prince Frederick Arthur of Homburg has returned to Fehrbellin. Exhausted and battle-weary, the prince falls into a dreamlike sleep, weaving a laurel wreath as he half dozes. The elector of Brandenburg, Frederick William, is informed by Count Hohenzollern of the prince’s strange condition, and the elector, the electress, and their niece, Princess Natalie, arrive in the garden where the prince is sleeping. The elector takes the wreath from the prince, entwines it in his neck chain, and gives it to Natalie. They back away as the somnambulistic prince follows, murmuring incoherently, and as they retreat inside, the prince snatches a glove from Natalie’s hand. When the prince awakes, he tells Count Hohenzollern about the occurrence, which he thinks was a dream. Hohenzollern reproves him for his romantic fantasies and urges him to make ready for the coming battle with the Swedes.

The field marshal of Brandenburg dictates the orders of battle to his officers, but the prince, who is to play an important role in the battle, is absorbed in his own thoughts. Hoping to remember from whom he obtained the glove he has found in his possession, he wears it in his collar. The electress and Natalie are present, and plans are being formed to send them to a place of safety. As the field marshal reaches the section of the orders that pertains to the prince, Natalie, preparing to depart, suddenly realizes that she has but one glove. The prince, who loves Natalie, quickly becomes aware that he holds the missing glove. In order to be sure it is hers, he drops it on the floor in front of him to see if Natalie will claim it. When she does, the prince, in a fit of ecstasy, fails to hear his battle orders clearly, though his mission is to be a key one.

The battlefield of Fehrbellin resounds with cannon, and the elector’s forces are sure of victory. As the rout of the Swedes becomes apparent, the prince precipitately gives orders to advance. His colleagues make an effort to dissuade him from...

(The entire section contains 1274 words.)

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