"It's a regular motif, the innocent infanticide, in European literature at that time"
Newborn baby
Public DomainNewborn baby - Credit: Makalp

Gretchen is a character from Goethe's Faust. She drowns her illegitimate child. Hetty Sorrel is a character from George Eliot's novel Adam Bede. Pregnant and unmarried, she delivers the baby alone and then abandons it in a field to die. In Wordsworth's poem The Thorn, Martha is abandoned by her betrothed, who marries another woman. Martha, pregnant and mad, is frequently seen on a hill calling 'oh misery!'. Her baby disappears: 'some will say/She hanged her baby on the tree;/Some say she drowned it in the pond'.