The Medieval epic poem the ‘Nibelungenlied’ makes use of two supernatural elements. There is a cloak that renders a character invisible, and the phenomenon of cruentation is trial by ordeal, which supposedly reveals who the murderer of a victim is. Although critics have stated the importance of these two elements to the narrative, the questions of how and why these elements are crucial remain under-analysed. This paper seeks to fill this gap in current research by assessing each supernatural phenomenon’s narrative function. I argue that their supernatural qualities are not the only aspects that link them, and that it is their power to alter what is (in)visible that makes them a catalyst for changing socio-cultural power dynamics in the text, ultimately leading to the tragic ending of the poem.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Cameron M Cross