The woman in German poetry: Heinrich Heine’s ‘Die Lorelei’ and J. W von Goethe’s ‘Der Fischer’

Emanuela Militello | 28 May 2019
I am going to focus on the portrayal of women as supernatural characters in two ballads by notable German poets: Heinrich Heine’s ‘Die Lorelei’ and J.W von Goethe’s ‘Der Fischer’, in order to give an insight into how their characterisation of women is influenced by Greek mythology.
In both ballads, women use their voice to entice the man – in a manner reminiscent of the power of sirens in the Odyssey, where sirens are infamous for luring sailors with their voices and for their uncanny appearance. The unfortunate ones who listen to their seductive singing, shipwreck against the rocks of the sirens’ island and meet a horrible death.

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