The Marquise of O by Kleist

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In Kleist’s novella The Marquise of O, the narrative depicts the account of the Marquise of O’s, a young Italian window and a “lady of unblemished reputation”(Kleist 68), sudden impregnation and her subsequent attempts to solve the question of the paternity of her child. Through the contrasting interactions between the characters from the Marquise’s estrangement with her family to her eventual reconciliation, Kleist utilizes the search for her unborn child’s father to provide a social commentary on how tensions of uncertainty complicate the search for truth and identity within established gender relationships and traditional social constructs. Throughout the narrative, the text utilizes the conflict over the crisis of cognition, or the…show more content…
Because she appears to be subjected to swooning and blushing when conversing about the pregnancy or sexual nuances as looking at Leopardo’s shoulders, the text suggests that the marquise is an individual capable subconsciously of non-angelic human behavior. Having previously confined herself to the role of mother and celibate widow following her husband’s death, the narrative exposes the Marquise of O as another individual in society suffering from the complexities of repressed eroticism and sexuality and her attempts at understanding her current and unforeseeable situation. As a result, the text illustrates her sense of Kantian crisis of uncertainty in which she seeks to make sense of her world following the discovery and confirmation by both the doctor and midwife and her need to redefine herself as an independent individual capable of handling all the challenges in her life. Unlike other characters in the novella who submit to the will of others and resort to established power and dominance structures, the Marquise of O proves to be an anomaly, abandoning the comforts of her former home with her children against her father’s demands. In embracing the notion of the child and finding the identity of the child’s father through the newspaper ad, the marquise eradicates all hints of guilt and manages to integrate herself back into a stable life, revealing her ability to overcome adversity and to forge a new independent identity despite being

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