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The figure of the knight in Eichendorff's narrative prose Mills, Catherine Mary

Abstract

In the following study, the writer has considered the figure of the knight as it appears in Eichendorff'a narrative prose works, particularly the two novels, "Ahnung und Gegenwart" and "Dichter und ihre Gesellen", and two Märchennovellen, "Die Zauberei im Herbste" and "Das Marmorbild". The knight is not necessarily good: he may embody evil principles, or, through weakness, succumb to the daemonic forces in nature. Generally, however, the knight possesses strong religious faith and its attendant virtues of loyalty, patriotism, and service to others. Whereas Eichendorff's strong religious stand varies from the usual Romantic pattern, his association of art and metaphysics is typically Romantic: the knight may also be a poet or become a priest. The knights of the Napoleonic era, that is, those in "Ahnung und Gegenwart", turn away from society, but those in the later works participate actively in mundane affairs. Indeed, in the end, Eichendorff comes to acknowledge the incidence of chivalrous behaviour in persons not born to knightly estate.

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