Heinrich von Kleist’s narrative Michael Kohlhaas (1810) is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece in its genre. In the space of some one hundred pages, it unfolds a complex tale of a law-abiding horse trader who launches a campaign of violence against the nobleman Wenzel von Tronka following the illegal confiscation of his horses. The opening paragraph presents the reader with the main interpretative challenge in a particularly acute form, as it describes Kohlhaas as one of the most decent and most dreadful people of his time: a pillar of the community whose sense of right turned him into a robber and a murderer. The text raises difficult political and legal questions concerning the duties and responsibilities of both …
Griffiths, Elystan. "Michael Kohlhaas". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 26 January 2005; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=13115, accessed 26 April 2015.]