Sexual Violence In Heinrich Von Kleist's The Marquise Of O

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The Marquise of O- by Heinrich von Kleist is a story chock-full of secrets and unsaid ideas, such as the ambiguity of details regarding Giulietta’s possible rape. Furthermore, if every word isn’t read with the utmost attention, something major will slip notice. Specifically, when Giulietta is talking to her midwife, whom she has called in to hopefully deny her illegitimate pregnancy, she briefly states that she “conceived knowingly” (Kleist 91). This can be surprising after a second reading, as Kleist portrays her as a rape survivor with no memory of the ordeal. In fact, it is easy to make the mistake of either skipping over this wording or assuming that she was lying in case the midwife decided to spread this damaging information (as the extent …show more content…
Thus, quick reading and assumptions based upon a strong feeling that she is a victim of sexual violence ended up interfering with a brief but poignant moment in the story. Therefore it is obvious that Kleist’s writings should not be a quick or uncritically examined read. This moment reveals that one must dig deep to gain a full understanding of his meaning and insinuations, and that Giulietta is not as oblivious to her condition as the reader may initially believe.
A prime example of this latent knowledge Giulietta appears to possess lies in the scenes in which the doctor reveals the cause of her ill health to the Marquise which she refuses to believe, and there is uneasy conversation between Giulietta and her mother surrounding this disturbing diagnosis. At first the Marquise, “hoping that her natural good health would reassert itself,” denies a doctor (Kleist 86). Perhaps this is her hoping that she isn’t actually pregnant. Her knowledge of her condition is undeniable, because she “jestingly (tells the doctor) what condition she (believes) herself to be in,” and the doctor confirms that she “judged correctly how things were” (Kleist 86). Now, as is suggested in Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave, your perception can only be based upon

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