n Acta Germanica : German Studies in Africa - Die mangelhafte Frau : stereotypen des Weiblichen, Hysterie und Wiedergängerschaft in Hans Grimms Novelle "Als Grete aufhörte, ein Kind zu sein"




This essay on Hans Grimm's novella "How Grete Stopped Being a Child" discusses the adolescent protagonist's increasing hysterisation. This quasi-pathology refers to the conflicting requirements with which a colonial femininity is addressed in the light of a destabilised patriarchal authority. The demands of a domineering white Herrin over black labourers collide with the role of a chaste and obsequious wife of the pater familias. Grimm instrumentalises the liminal phase of the adolescent Grete, who, amid hysteric resistance, is changing from her juvenile androgyny into an adult landlady, as a propagandistic example of ideal colonial identity politics. However, the constant hysteric substructure of the text undermines the intentions of the author and hints at the inevitable failure of his coming-of-age tale: the confusion of roles cannot be resolved and the novella ends up abandoning its claim to psychological plausibility.


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