Female Agency in the Nibelungenlied: a Comparative Analysis of Agency in the characters of Kriemhild and Brunhild
Koning, G.E. de
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This thesis explores female agency in the Nibelungenlied by analysing the characters of Kriemhild and Brunhild. Their respective agency is linked to their constitution and enactment of emotion, such as grief, shame and revenge. Kriemhild’s and Brunhild’s agency changes throughout the epic. Brunhild’s agency decreases as the epic progresses, while Kriemhild’s agency grows. This research shows how the change in agency of both Kriemhild and Brunhild is connected to their respective diversion from and adaption to courtly society. Through close reading and broader readings of the narrative, this development is connected to a rise in female agency in epic society, and a reduction of female agency in courtly circles. This thesis argues that female agency is connected to displays of epic and courtly elements in the Nibelungenlied. These displays are in turn connected to the performance and enactment of emotion. This argument is articulated through a discussion of the characters and character development of Kriemhild and Brunhild. Through the discussion of female agency in this High Medieval epic, this thesis on the one hand aims to gain a better understanding of both epic and courtly society through their representation in the Nibelungenlied. On the other hand, this research aims to show the relevance of the Nibelungenlied in contemporary academic debates on politics of the female.