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Title:Die Wandlungen Des Frauenbildes in Der Lyrik Heinrich Heines. (German Text)
Author(s):Potash, Geertje Suhr
Department / Program:German
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Germanic
Abstract:This study intends to show how Heine tries in his poetry to destroy the medieval, petrarchan and romantic spiritual love concept, with its idealized view of women--apart from his frequent use of irony and parody--by opposing it with the erotic love concept of Greek and Roman poetry and that of the German Anacreontics, with its more realistic, sensuous view of women.
In the "Buch der Lieder" the beloved maiden can still be simply a source of poetic inspiration, a muse, and her image sometimes resembles that of the idealized romantic distant beloved or of the cold mistress of the Petrarchists. But since the poet's love is not reciprocated, he gradually begins to make fun of his own idealized vision of her and often denounces the beautiful, blond, utterly passive maiden as a silly and haughty member of the rich bourgeoisie, or he goes as far as to call her treacherous and unfaithful. A careful analysis of the poetry reveals, however, that the so-called unfaithful beloved was in fact never the poet-persona's "bride" who betrayed him, but a girl whom he had chosen as his muse--probably without her being aware of it--and who did not love him in return. Rarely does the poet sing about the torture of loving a treacherous woman; usually, the themes of Heine's love poetry are the joys and pains of unrequited love for a beautiful, passive, if not cold maiden. Already in the "Traumbilder" one notices that Heine is not content singing the praises of the beloved's beauty, but desires her physically and wants their sexual union in marriage.
Under the influence of the Saint-Simonian philosophy, Heine likes to divide humanity into two basic types: the "Nazarene", who represents the platonic, spiritualistic or romantic love concept, and the "Hellene", who represents the erotic love concept, with its hedonistic attitude towards life. In the poems of this period, called "Verschiedene" ("Neue Gedichte"), Heine takes on the attitude of a convinced "Hellene". The poet-persona is mainly concerned with satisfying his sexual appetites, and the woman is viewed only as a desirable love-object, not as a spiritual partner or soul mate. In fact, the poet is still attached to the spiritual love concept, since he often accuses women of unfaithfulness and he tires easily of his sensuous bed-mates.
In the poem "Der Tannhauser" ("Neue Gedichte"), Heine's opinion that an erotic, sensuous woman is seen very differently through the eyes of "Nazarene" and "Hellene" finds its perfect poetic expression. In the eyes of an ascetic "Nazarene", Venus is a whore. When a "Nazarene" desires her, he views her as a femme fatale, an alluring and frightening siren. For a "Helene", she is a vital, happy, healthy bed-made and wife. In Tannhauser's soul and mind, the "Nazarene" and the "Hellene" fight a constant battle. Although Heine called himself a "Nazarene" after the onset of his illness, the numerous sensuous female figures in his later poetry--who are rarely shown in the negative light of a moralist--indicate that he was still a "Hellene" at heart.
In Heine's female symbolic figures--as in the Loreley--the positive, alluring and the negative, destructive traits of "real" women are raised to superhuman proportions. In this way, these figures become symbols of a wild romantic passion with an exhilarating and a torturing aspect. Heine's animated sensuous female marble-statues represent, finally, a new sensuous art form, a considerable progression from the unsensuous spiritual romantic and classical concept of love and art that was prevalent at his time.
Issue Date:1980
Description:253 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8108630
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1980

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