Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Ann Schmiesing

Second Advisor

Beverly Weber

Third Advisor

Mark Leiderman


Although centuries have passed since the Nibelungenlied has been written, this text continues to provoke much debate amongst scholars. This thesis dissects the events leading up to the death of Siegfried in order to answer the question: why did Siegfried die? Through the use of medieval gender theory according to Thomas Laqueur and authority models, such as Max Weber's charismatic and traditional authorities, this thesis shows that these competing views of authority and morality lead to a necessary end for Siegfried. It is further shown that characters within the Nibelungenlied are often cast within rigid archetypes, despite their more complex principles. Gunther is not the rex iniquus that he is often claimed to be, and Brünhild cannot be reduced down to being a tíuvéles wîp. Through these findings (and through sources describing medieval culture and law), a sense moral reception of the Nibelungenlied emerges.