In Kleist’s drama Penthesilea animals are not only presented in order to carry meaning through their use as rhetoric figure to enucleate and underline human qualities or vices, but also agents themselves (McHugh 2009) in scenes of chase. With Rolands Borgards we can refer to the dogs of Penthesilea’s chases as diegetic animal (Borgards, 2012). Taking over Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory (Latour 2004) we point out that dogs are actors of the play creating with the Amazons a cross-species community (Haraway 2008) rooted in the common organic natural bios that they share and co-shape. On the contrary, the Greek community is a stereotyped one, crystallised in empty formulas and in predictable behaviours. Penthesilea’s dogs allow the reader to trace back the “political issue” (Derrida 2015) implied in the representation of this peculiar cross-species community: through the difference in the forms of sociality between the cross-species community of amazon and dogs and the ”civilized” world of the Greeks, Kleist represents the deep conflict of the dramatic years of the Napoleon’s occupation of Prussia, during which he wrote the drama (1806-1807): on the one hand the nobility of the Ancient Regime assisting to the Prussian disaster without taking any responsibility and political decision, as the Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm III himself did; on the other hand a younger generation of aristocrats politically engaged in the opposition to Napoleon and in the rebirth of the nation according to the principles of Rousseau's political philosophy, joining politics and morality in the rediscovery of the correct state of nature. These last joined around the revolutionary figure of the Queen Louise, living herself in accordance to the principles of the state of nature. The contrapposition between Penthesiela with her dogs, living the full expression of the bios according to their cross-species community, and Achlles attesting a life of laws yet disconnected from the ethics and the public interest allow the reader to gain new insights in the political implication of this drama and in its deconstruction of Napoleon’s ideals and demagogy.
|Titolo:||Hounds, Horses and Elephants in Heinrich von Kleists Play Penthesilea|
|Data di pubblicazione:||Being printed|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)|