Power of Fates:
An analysis of Foreknowledge in Das Nibelungenlied
Among several mystical components that characterize medieval literature, foreknowledge is the feature that takes a great deal of consideration in practice. Particularly, authors have to determine all kinds of questions as to how, where and what to incorporate in foreknowledge scenes. No matter what decisions being made, they do not go far away from the text’s objectives. Similarly, the thirteenth-century Austrian text Das Nibelungenlied’s author aesthetically integrates foreknowledge into the historical story of the Burgundians in such a creative manner that facilitates its purpose of being a “profoundly moral poem” ...view middle of the document...
Sadly, according to the dream, a pair of eagles will bring about its death, meaning that someone will cause the loss of her hero. More importantly, such tragedy will be executed “in front of her eyes.” The grief is significantly augmented when she directly observes it, yet she is unable to change the situation. The parallel of such increasingly painful experience can be found in the fact that she inadvertently contributes to Hagen’s plot. The dream foretells exactly, though not literally, what is going to happen to Krimhild as well as other related protagonists.
Regardless of the ample amount of information she has acquired about her hero’s fate, Krimhild does not make any attempt to turn around the situation. Supposedly, Krimhild should have become more attentive in the future in order not to harm her beloved. On the other hand, Krimhild not only shows an immediate rejection to the dream’s meaning, but also displays no efforts to refrain herself from loving Sifried at first sight. When seeing the nobleman for the first time, she quickly gives him “a place in her heart” (21). Basically, she acts as if she had never had the dream or never heard her mother’s interpretations. Foreknowledge in Krimhild’s depiction does not alter this character’s behaviors. Thus, Krimhild that has dreamed such a dream acts just like a less informed Krimhild, who supposedly has never experienced this foreknowledge scene.
Instead of affecting Krimhild’s actions, foreknowledge more likely influences the ways the audience perceives this character. Prior to Sifried’s death, she does not seem to conduct any wrongdoings. She does trust Hagen more than she should have. She reveals to the murder her husband’s single weak spot and sews a silken mark on the back of Sifried’s clothes out of a good intention to protect him (126), accidentally contributing to the conspiracy. Yet she does not know about Hagen’s plot; thus, she should not be held fully accountable for this action. Unfortunately, she later has to suffer much grief: her husband is murdered; her treasure is stolen by Hagen, who she thinks will never betray her (126). As a profoundly moral poem, there should be corresponding outcomes for each character’s actions; in particular, a virtuous person is not supposed to undergo that much sorrow. In order to support the poem’s moral purpose, foreknowledge in fact helps account for Krimhild’s gloomy consequences by implicitly eliciting her flaws.
With the inclusion of the dream at the beginning of the narrative, Krimhild can firstly be criticized for being ignorant and disobedient. The dream renders the audience to expect Krimhild to be more careful in the future and act against the dream’s truthfulness. For instance, she should have trusted her mother, who is more experienced and superior to her. Instead, she asserted that Otta was “wasting words” on her, completely ignoring her mother’s interpretation of the dream. Furthermore, as an extension of her ignorance, she...