I’m supposed to be doing my German homework right now, but something struck me.
At the moment our subject is “The Marquise of O…” by Heinrich von Kleist and it’s set around 1799 when Napoleon was trying to get over the fact he was very small. However there are several times the Marquise throws herself at people’s feet or wishes to do so at least and regrets that she couldn’t.
But did they REALLY do that? I know that nowadays that would be awfully strange if someone just threw themselves at your feet, kissed your shoes or hugged your knees. I suppose it’s a sign of blind deference and a quite humiliating one at that. I can’t imagine anyone really throwing themselves at somebody else’s feet. A simple please or thank you will do. I’m not sure I’d forgive someone if they hugged my knees – nobody touches my knees. Nowadays, you know, people can talk to each other, discuss the matter, apologize in an upright manner. Has that much changed since little Napoleon? (Not his son, but the actual Napoleon). The only time I would ever really throw myself on the floor and someone’s feet is to either amuse them or embarrass the both of us. It’s simply pathetic. I mean, how does it work? That’s not called reasoning with each other – it’s pointless. How would it have gone?
“Oh, please! I’m here at your feet, father, forgive me!”
“Oh…well you are quite low now and I feel sorry for your dirty dress, so alright. I forgive you.”
“Oh! Thank you, father! I’ll kiss your shoes to express my endless gratitude!”
And what’s quite amazing is how they always say: “My father!” or “My daughter!”, “My mother!” “My Julietta!” and go about hugging each other and kissing each other (I believe at one point the Marquise was making out with her dad) and pressing each other’s head onto their chests and constantly expressing some kind of despair or endless gratitude or whatever; it’s always very intense and endless and all of that. The characters in this book all need to chill out a bit. No wonder everyone died so early. They must have had high blood pressure because of constantly stressing about every little detail. It’s annoying.
Oh, and another thing: Why on earth are they constantly fainting? Only the women, of course, because the men are strong and don’t have time to fait. It’s silly. I don’t know if women faint more statistically speaking, but how light-headed can a person be?
Okay I have to get back to the Marquise hugging her dad’s knees…he doesn’t forgive her by the way. At the time everyone though a woman could only get pregnant with her consent (The Marquise is pregnant, by the way, and hasn’t the foggiest idea how it happened). Therefore, when the woman is sleeping or unconscious while a man is sexually taking advantage of her, it didn’t count as rape because she wasn’t awake to tell him to stop. But she couldn’t have got pregnant either, because she didn’t want to get pregnant. People were so stupid at the time.
Oh and what Mr. Kleist didn’t think about when he wrote the novel is that she would feel it afterwards – that it would hurt insanely and well, the Marquise seems to be quite intelligent; so she would have concluded from that pain that she was possibly violated.