Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Languages, Literatures and Cultures



First Advisor

Kurt Goblirsch


The Nibelungenlied has offered German Studies a unique example of medieval literature that is highly valuable for teaching Middle High German as well as German literary history. The Nibelungenlied has many interesting literary qualities that over the centuries have generated an abundance of scholarship and theories regarding the work in numerous contexts. The Nibeungenlied also offers a historical viewpoint of Medieval European culture and ideals. What is most fascinating about this work, is that it does all of that and tells a classic story in an entertaining way. This story has attracted scholars and artists from throughout the history of the German canon, partly because of its quasi-mysterious and varied origins that for a number of centuries had gone unnoticed.

My interest in this work has to do with complex moral dilemmas that characters face as a result of conflicting ideals of honor and loyalty that are found within the text. I focus on the details of these two forms of loyalty and honor through an analysis of different relationships encountered in the Nibelungenlied. I also show that these conflicting ideals cannot coexist. I argue that the presence of multiple courts and the coexistence of paganism and Courtly Christian ideals ultimately lead to certain tragic ends, which bear stark resemblance to the Norse apocalypse.


© 2010, Matthew Arthur Wendel