Saturday, August 3, 2019

Archetypal Shame Society Essay examples -- German Literature Heroic Ep

Archetypal Shame Society Certainly one of the greatest works of German literature to date, Das Nibelungenlied is arguably the finest example of the heroic epic in all of Western literature. Ostensibly, Das Nibelungenlied is a story of deception, betrayal, and vengeance interwoven with themes of fate and the relationship between love and despair. The poet reproaches the main character, the queen Kriemhild, for her selfishness in sacrificing the lives of thousands of loyal knights to exact her revenge on those who betrayed and murdered her husband. However, underlying the story of Das Nibelungenlied is a tacit critique of its hypothetical society, which itself closely resembles the society of the poet’s audience. Hence, the poet intends to effect discourse amongst his audience regarding the political state of its society, and indeed this theme is even recapitulated in the very act of the epic’s reception. The premise for the poet’s political theory of the Nibelungenlied society is the same as that of English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his essays on the state of nature and the social contract. Hobbes believed that man, in his natural state, was driven by the primitive impulses of desire, aggression, fear, and most of all, survival. For the most part, the lives of uncivilized men were short and brutish. Thus, to protect themselves from each other and external threats, men entered into a social contract, in which they created an entity with authority to rule and power to defend. Nevertheless, this agreement is hardly a solution to the problem of man’s natural aggression towards his fellow man; it merely glosses over it. Perfect evidence of the Nibelungenlied society glossing over natural aggression are the knightly exhibi... ...ext has to be such that the audience member learns nothing new about himself or herself in his or her self-conscious reflection of that text. In this way, the audience member realizes the society of the epic is analogous to his or her own. There are natural urges that man has, such as aggression, for which the state will provide suitable outlets. However, one must be wary that during the sublimation of these natural urges, one does not neglect to recognize the implications of these urges, because it is these impulses that drive and form our societies yet at the same time threaten their existence. To be sure, an audience listening to a reading of Das Nibelungenlied might well be a sublimation of adventure-seeking or intellectual stimulation, but whatever it is, if it sustains the society, it should never be glossed over, for it may also destroy the society it serves.

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