Topics: Heinrich von Kleist, The Earthquake in Chile, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin Pages: 2 (533 words) Published: May 24, 2013
An important symbol in Heinrich von Kleist’s ‘The Earthquake in Chile’ is the earthquake which took place in Santiago, Chile. The story revolves around three main characters. Jerónimo Rugera was a tutor in Don Enrique Asterón’s house. While being employed there he had fallen in love with Don Enrique Asterón’s daughter, Dona Josefa. Dona’s brother told their father about this and he dismissed Jerónimo from his house and sent Dona to the convent of Our Lady of the Mountain. The most probable reason for Don Enrique’s anger is that the relationship between the two was outside of the bonds of marriage. Jerónimo and Dona continued their relationship and it is then revealed that Dona is pregnant when she falls on the cathedral steps due to labour pains. Jerónimo was subsequently thrown in prison and Dona faced a trial with respect to her infidelity. She was convicted and sentenced to death by fire followed by a beheading. Meanwhile Jerónimo decided to hang himself since he cannot free her and felt as though life was hateful towards him. It is then that the earthquake strikes. The prison in which Jerónimo was held collapses and he is able to save himself before the building crashes on top of him. Dona was on her way to face her sentencing when the earthquake strikes. She immediately rushes back to the convent to try and find her son, Felipe. When she is reunited with her son she starts to look for Jerónimo at the prison which is now in ruins. They later find each other and immense joy overtakes them especially when Jerónimo sees his son for the first time. The earthquake can be seen as a projection of the feelings and thoughts of Jerónimo as well as Dona. The extreme nature of their relationship is symbolized in the massively destructive earthquake that hits Santiago. Their relationship started out as a secret as they were forced to hide their love due to the norms of the society that they were living in. The longer a secret of this magnitude is kept the more pressure...
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