Casting Now for the 19th-Century Soap Opera “The Marquise of O”


Opening Scene:
An announcement in the newspapers that the Marquise of O wishes to know who fathered the child she is carrying so that she can marry him.

The Main Characters:

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The Story:
During the Napoleonic Wars, Colonel G is in charge of the citadel in M. Before he can send his family to safety, the citadel is overrun by Russians. When the Marquise, a young widow, is on the verge of being gang-raped by Russian soldiers, Count F swoops in and saves her. The Marquise promptly faints. The Count continues storming the fort, accepts the Colonel’s surrender, and then leaves before the Marquise can thank him for his protection. Shortly thereafter, the family receives word that the Count has died on the battlefield. Everyone feels bad that such a decent man has lost his life.

After the war, the Count calls on the Colonel and his family. He didn’t die after all. He wants to marry the Marquise, even though it is rather sudden, seeing how the Count and the Marquise have only met once, briefly, under unusual circumstances. The Count is willing to desert the military so that the Colonel’s family can to get to know him. The Colonel and his wife convince him that that’s not a good idea. After all, who wants to have a deserter in the family? Also, the Marquise really doesn’t have an interest in getting married again. The Count agrees to conduct his military business and then come back. Before he leaves, he assures everyone that he really, really, REALLY wants to marry the Marquise.

After his departure, the Marquise, who already has two children, curiously feels as if she’s pregnant. Her suspicion is confirmed by a doctor. She is clueless as to how this could have happened. Her father is outraged; his daughter should be smart enough not to get pregnant out of wedlock. He throws her out of his house. Luckily, she owns an estate in V to which she can retreat.

The Count returns from his business trip and finds out about the pregnancy. He’s unsurprised. The Marquise’s brother questions his sanity. The Count goes to see the Marquise. She refuses to talk to him.

The Marquise’s announcement (see opening scene) appears in the newspaper. It is answered with the announcement that the father will reveal himself at the Colonel’s house the following day. The Colonel is furious again. Who does something like this? The Colonel’s wife finally has enough and tricks her daughter into revealing that she truly does not know who got her pregnant. The mother reunites father and daughter. All agree that a marriage is necessary. All are happy.

The next day—surprise, surprise—in walks the Count. The Marquise screams and storms off. Her parents declare her crazy and force her to marry the Count. A baby boy is born, the Count gifts him lots of money, the Marquise is appeased. They live happily ever after.

Deserves Oscar For:
The most un-outrageous rape that I have ever encountered in literature.

My struggle with German classics continues…

Who would you cast in this soap opera?



  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! As Naomi has mentioned, I think you picked some fine choices for your cast of characters. Helen Mirren sounds perfect for the Colonel’s wife.

  2. I think you did a great job casting this! I have to admit I am confused as to how the Marquise got pregnant without knowing it. But, then again, these things can happen in soap operas…
    This was fun to read! (Although, I will not likely be adding this book to my list.) 🙂

    • When reading this book, I thought she was raped while she was unconscious. But when I looked it up afterwards, I saw that there is quite a bit of debate over whether she was raped or rather a willing participant. Who knows… I couldn’t take this novella too seriously, even though Kleist is quite an influential German poet. He’s not for me!

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