Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Heinrich von Aue
Heinrich von Aue (HIN-rihsh fon OW-eh), a Swabian knight. He is wealthy, handsome, and of noble birth; purity and honor are the marks of his life; and fulfillment of the obligations of knighthood is his goal. Suddenly, all is changed by the terrible knowledge that he is a leper. In search of a remedy, he finally learns that his only cure lies in finding a virgin who, out of love, will yield her heart’s blood. When a peasant girl begs Heinrich to allow her to make the sacrifice, he gives in to her pleas, but at the moment before the operation, he cannot accept her offering. On the way home, God’s healing grace restores Heinrich to health. He and the girl are wed amid the rejoicings of his people.
A peasant girl
A peasant girl, the daughter of the family with whom Heinrich lives as a leper. Deeply moved by Heinrich’s suffering, and for the eternal life that will be her reward, she willingly offers her heart’s blood for his cure. After the knight’s refusal of her sacrifice and his miraculous cure, she and Heinrich are married.