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Kleist and the Tragic Ideal

A Study of "Penthesilea</I> and its Relationship to Kleist's Personal and Literary Development 1806-1808


Hilda M. Brown

Kleist's tragedy Penthesilea is approached from various angles, including the biographical and literary-historical one, to place it in the context of German drama ca. 1800. A detailed critical analysis is provided in which emphasis is laid on imagery, style and techniques of presentation of the tragic issues. On this basis the view is advanced that in Penthesilea Kleist succeeded in solving the problems which had prevented his achieving a «grand tragedy» with «Robert Guiscard», by creating a unique substitute for Choric commentary in the form of «gradualistic» commentaries on the action, strategically presented by certain characters, principally by means of key-images.