Micheal Kohlhass

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Category: Literature

Date Submitted: 11/12/2012 01:56 PM

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Michael Kohlhaas is a novella written by Heinrich von Kleist, a German short story writer who was born on October 18, 1777. Kleist took his own life on November 21, 1811 at the age of 33, due to emotional stresses and issues. In 1999, the story Michael Kohlhaas was adapted into a film directed by John Badham, an English director, who became an American citizen in 1950. The film is much different than the novella. Most noticeably instead of being set in Cölln, now a part of Berlin, during 16th century, the movie takes place during Wyoming’s battle for statehood. It is portrayed as a Western film. The film stars John Cusack as Michael Kohlhaas, a merchant horse trader who’s horses are taken away from him as bounty for being unable to pay the Junker the fee for passage towards Saxony. When Michael Kohlhaas returns from Saxony, his horses are in less than perfect condition. He refuses to accept the horses until the Junker personally nurses them back to perfect condition. Refusal from the Junker leads Michael Kohlhaas to seek justice.

Michael Kohlhaas is a strong, determined man willing to do anything to have the Junker personally fulfill what he deems necessary to restore justice, the complete nursing back to health of his horses. In his attempt to restore this justice, Michael Kohlhaas must venture far out of his way to get what he desires, eventually leading to the unjust event of having to pay with his life. Perhaps there was good intention and moral ground for doing so, as the potential for being reunited with his fallen wife loams. Either way, does his extreme need see justice eventually lead to injustice?

To better understand what is going on within Michael Kohlhaas, we need to look at the actual definitions of two words; justice and injustice. The direct definition of justice from www.dictonary.com, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, is defined as: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold...