"The literary oeuvre of the controversial writer of dramas and novellas Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) continues to fascinate scholars of German literature even today, nearly two centuries after his death by suicide. Over the years, disagreements among Kleist scholars have been so extreme that some have suggested that his work subverts the very process of interpretation. Sean Allan challenges this view and the related one of Kleist as a profound pessimist. He argues that the focus on Kleist's uninterpretability has obscured important elements of social criticism present in his "moral tales." To this end, Allan approaches the stories via an investigation of four thematic clusters: justice and revenge; revolution and social change; education and the nature of evil; and art and religion. Moreover, Allan suggests that the perspective endorsed by the narrator reflects the assumptions and prejudices of the members of the dominant class of Kleist's time (authoritarian and male-dominated as it was), and finds that by the end of the stories it is precisely this perspective that has been profoundly called into question."