Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Modern Languages and Literature (German Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Ametsbichler

Commitee Members

Hiltrud Arens, James McKusick


Cognitive Dissonance, Duality, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Heinrich von Kleist, Reconciliation, Romanticism


University of Montana


Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) and E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), two authors living and working during the time of German Romanticism, have long since distinguished themselves as contributors to the cultural atmosphere of Europe at the time and as individual, dynamic artists in their own right. In this thesis, I will offer an exploration of four novellas by Kleist, including Die Marquise von O… (1808), Das Erdbeben in Chili (1807), Michael Kohlhaas (1808), and Die Verlobung in Santo Domingo (1811), as well as four of Hoffmann’s works: Der Sandmann (1817), Das Fräulein von Scudéri (1819), Der goldne Topf (1814) and Das öde Haus (1817). In each of these works, themes of paradox, cognitive dissonance, and contradiction figure prominently and, as each author attempts to confront questions of the fantastic and the real, we begin to see the destructive potential of duality and the ways in which both Kleist and Hoffmann, working within the context of German Romanticism, choose to address the idea of reconciliation. In this thesis, I will argue that it is primarily this duality, and not its reconciliation, upon which both authors focus in a way that engages readers and provokes active participation in the reading of the texts. I also argue that the process of Romantic creation, while difficult to define, is in part driven by the pursuit of and attempt toward reconciliation. While Kleist is considered to be a classic outsider to Romanticism, we will see that, in addition, Hoffmann may in fact to a certain extent resist an exclusive categorization as a Romantic author as well and can also be seen as an outsider of the movement to which he is generally assumed to belong.

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