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Seduction and Betrayal: Race and Gender in Kleist's "Die Verlobung in St. Domingo"

Hansjakob Werlen and Hans Jakob Werlen
Monatshefte
Vol. 84, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 459-471
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30153214
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Seduction and Betrayal: Race and Gender in Kleist's "Die Verlobung in St. Domingo"
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Abstract

Investigating representations of race and gender in Kleist's text, the essay focuses on the sexual and cultural appropriation of the quadroon Toni by the Swiss mercenary Gustav. Toni's seduction and ultimate betrayal iterate and simultaneously negate a discourse of race which contrasts superior white paternal lineage (Europe) with inferior black maternal lineage (Africa). While the color of her complexion ultimately subverts Toni's transformation into Gustav's idealized white bride Mariane, she nevertheless serves the same apotropaic function for the officer as Mariane and also doubles as his victim. This reading reveals how the ending of the novella erases its own central issues of race and culture.

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