Mothers appear from the dead in The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne and The Trental of St. Gregory to offer otherworldly lessons of warning for their children. The focus on these ghostly mothers as ‘other’ than their demure depictions on earth invites discussion about the place of women’s sin and sexuality within the context of the family. In this paper, I explore how the mothers’ suffering, otherworldly bodies expose late medieval attitudes about the mother as teacher within the household and comment upon how in both late medieval texts this ‘mother as teacher’ trope endures despite the physical separation of death.
This paper aims to analyse the behaviours of different mother-figures as they are depicted in several canonical texts of the Middle High German literature (e.g. Tristan, Eneasroman, Nibelungenlied, Kudrun) by interpreting their purpose in the narrative as Otherness. Although the mother-figures do not usually play the main role in these texts, they are featured with the primary aim of defining the self of the daughter-figures. As this paper intends to argue, the encounter of the two figures (other/self – mother/daughter) can lead to integration, but is often characterised by their opposition to each other.