Traditionally, ?The Song of the Nibelungs? is perceived as a great gift inebriated by European literature from the past. Basically, this literary work incorporated myths and legends which perfectly illustrated beliefs and traditions of the people that created them. At the same time, the book provides not only important cultural and artistic information but it is also of a great value as a literary work depicting a variety of characters. Brunhild and Kriemhild may be actually named among the most vividly depicted characters which can really better understand the epoch when the book was created or at least the whole story was consolidated. On the other hand, these characters are extremely interesting on the level of the personal analysis. This is why it is very important to analyze, compare and contrast these two characters in order to reveal not only socio-cultural context of the epoch, traditions and norms, but also better understand the internal world of the characters.
At the beginning, it should be pointed out that both characters combine both similarities and differences that make them even more interesting to analyze. First of all, it should be pointed out that their similarities may be explained by certain similarities of their background and surrounding though they never have been really equal. In fact, their social status is one of the most distinguishable things that makes them different and similar at the same time. What is mean here is the fact that the high social rank is equally important for them and consciously or not they constantly compete with each other.
In this respect, it is worthy of mention that in that epoch the high social position was extremely important for each individual and there is no wonder that both Brunhild and Kriemhild attempt to gain high social status. However, Brunhild seems to be more natural and humanistic since she is not ready to achieve this status or any sort of supremacy by all means. In stark contrast, Kriemhild seems to be ready to use all possible tools to achieve her goals, including gaining higher social rank. In such a way, it is possible to estimate that Brunhild possesses a sort of internal, innate nobleness that is getting to be particularly obvious when she avoids the opportunity of public competition with Kriemhild for higher social rank while the latter easily threatens Brunhild that she can precede her while entering the church that would be a public demonstration of her social supremacy but Brunhild refuses from such a competition.
Consequently, it is obvious that Kriemhild strives for public recognition and attempts to prove her supremacy over her rival in public, while Brunhild rather reveals her internal, spiritual superiority compared to Kriemhild. Moreover, it is possible to estimate that the two characters represent two different views on the world, two different philosophy. On the one hand, there is a pragmatic and realistic Kriemhild who knows what she wants and uses all means to meet her goals. On the other hand, there is quite a romantic, idealistic Brunhild whose idealism seems to be quite strange in the context of her great physical power.
Also, speaking about the differences between the two characters, it is possible to state that both Brudhild and Kriemhild are strong but if the former is strong physically, even stronger than many men, than the latter is strong spiritually and, in this respect, she may also compete with any man. At this point, it is worthy to note that the book reveals the general trend of the epoch that practically unites the characters and makes them similar. This trend is to use masculine standards and masculine point of view in relation to women. In fact, it seems to be that the emphasis on physical and spiritual powers of both female characters is intentional as if it means that their power can be measured only in respect to those of men. In such a way, traditional male standards are extrapolated onto Brunhild and Kriemhild which obviously live according to the norms of their epoch.
Nonetheless, men produced not only a significant impact on their characteristic but also on their personal life as well. In fact, in the book readers deal with a complicated love triangular where Kriemhild falls in love with Sigurd but he prefers Brunhild. However, the evil and pragmatic nature of Kriemhild wins again when she uses love-potion to make Sigurd to totally forget Brunhild whom he has already promised to marry. As a result, Brunhild turns to be simply betrayed and deceived and what is more she actually loses the struggle with Kriemhild even though she wanted to avoid it. At first glance, it seems to be quite strange when such a physically strong person has to give in to Kriemhild but this is exactly the great irony may be easily revealed. Actually, the book perfectly illustrates that being physically strong, Brunhild turns to be absolutely unable to resist and struggle with Kriemhild psychologically, her idealism is contrasted and defeated by Kriemhild pragmatism and power of her spirit though, from the point of view of morality Brunhild seems to be spiritually better and richer than her rival but, as it turns out, this does not means to be spiritually stronger.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Brunhild and Kriemhild are similar but their similarities are, to a significant extent defined by the norms and traditions of their epoch and determined by masculine standards and importance of the role of the social hierarchy. At the same time, the basic differences refer to their personal qualities that really make them different and, what is more, Brunhild turns to be practically unable to oppose to Kriemhild because of the lack of personal qualities the latter possesses. Anyway, it should be said that the analysis of the two characters reveals the fact that they are in the similar socio-cultural conditions but represent different ideologies, on the one hand, there is idealism and romanticism of Brunhild that, on the other hand, is opposed and defeated by realism and pragmatism of Kriemhild.
1. Ryder, F.G. The Song of the Nibelungs. New York: Penguin, 1998.