Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Helmut Muller-Sievers

Second Advisor

Arne Höcker

Third Advisor

Davide Stimilli


This thesis will explore Heinrich Heine’s engagement with the political society of the Vormärz period of German literature and society through the perspective of Heine’s conscious construction and perception of Self. By exploring Heine’s method of political engagement, it will contemplate Heine’s self-presentation of a liminal identity as a critical method akin to that of the literary trickster archetype, arguing that Heine has taken on the role of a modernized jester [Narr]. This thesis will further contemplate how this alignment facilitated and effectuated his pursuit of political liberty, as well as his criticism of the socio-political status quo of the Restoration. Beginning with a consideration of Heine’s relation to the literary forms of poetry, irony, and satire as critical method, this thesis will develop the connection between Heine’s use of these literary traditions and his implementation of a picaresque discourse. Expanding upon this relation with consideration of the cultural values of liberty and fidelity [Freiheit und Treue] will demonstrate Heine’s self-conscious and purposeful embodiment of liminality in his experience of the Vormärz. Lastly, this thesis will convey how Heine’s embodiment of the picaresque jester lends itself to Heine’s criticism and subversion of the myth of nationalism. This thesis will focus primarily on Heine’s Vormärz Lyrik and prose to demonstrate how Heine’s satirical method and expression of Self as the jester [Narr] constitute Heine’s critical engagement with the socio-political circumstances of Restoration Europe and his reception in Germany.