I need to read "Germany: A Winter’s Tale by Heinrich Heine" (1797-1856) in the edition found here. Then I need to answer the following...

I need to read "Germany: A Winter’s Tale by Heinrich Heine" (1797-1856) in the edition found here.

Then I need to answer the following questions, identifying examples of meaningful language images (metaphor, cipher, allegory, etc.) and analyzing their meanings/ functions.  

Where should I start?

1. CAPUT VI-VII: Heine speaks of a disguised guest. Who is this guest and what do they do together in Cologne Cathedral?

2. CAPUT VIII: Discuss Heine's conversation with a picture of Christ on the cross. 

3. CAPUT XIV-XVI: Heine speaks of various German fairy tales and legends, but spends a lot of time with the Kyffhäuser saga of Friedrich Barbarossa. How is the Kyffhäuser saga important to Germany?  What is the opinion of Heine of Barbarossa?

4. Caput XVII: Some nationalists want to restore the German Middle Ages. What does Heine think of this idea? What does he think of the Middle Ages?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Germany: A Winter’s Tale" by Heinrich Heine is a poem of rebellion against what Heine sees as the stifling and backward looking nature of German society. It describes an actual journey he made back to Germany to visit his mother after living in exile in Paris. His ideological positions are opposed to censorship, clericalism, nationalism, and nostalgia. 

The disguised guest is a sort of doppelganger. This character is introduced in Caput V and describes himself as follows:

I am your lictor, and I march
With a well polished axe
Behind you: your current thoughts
Will be my future acts.

A lictor was a Roman official who served as a bodyguard to a magistrate. Lictors carried axes and were responsible at times for enforcing decrees. This image of a second self as lictor suggests that Heine is talking about how a second self might translate his own beliefs into actions and poetic ideals into political realities. 

When Heine dreams of visiting the Cathedral at Cologne, he evokes images of the three kings held to be buried there as part of the edifice of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. He imagines the lictor smashing them with its axe, destroying "the poor skeletons of superstition." This emphasizes that the imagery of the lictor and the skeletons is meant to suggest that the Middle Ages were dark ages of superstition.

Himself born to a Jewish family, Heine also saw the Middle Ages as a period of rampant antisemitism and dominance of religion and superstition. Although Heine himself opposed official Christianity, he also in this poem sees Christ himself as a persecuted idealist and his Crucifixion as a cautionary tale for those who held to their ideals and rebelled against their societies.  

Frederick I, also known as Frederick Barbarossa, was a folk hero to many Germans, an image of the glory and power of medieval Germany. Heine, therefore, appears in the poem as arguing with him rather than sharing the nostalgia for him espoused by many of the German nationalists. 

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