Witiko: Bertha and Dimut
While it is possible to discuss both the characters of Bertha, and Dimut individually, for the purposes herein it is more effective to discuss them in comparison to one another. This will provide insight into our historical understanding of the role of women within this culture. Each of these characters has their own transgressions, as Stifter mentions, although in context both are regarded as minor. Upon the surface the text reads as the story of Witiko’s quest for ‘the right.’ However, within the understanding of each human being’s similar journey; we can view this same path for each of these feminine characters.
When we first meet Bertha, she is characterized in youth as innocent. When Witiko first meets her in the woods, she wears a wreath of roses, the symbol of Witiko’s family. Later, as her and Witiko fall in love she is endeared to us as faithful, and loyal. Her loyalty to Witiko foreshadows Witiko’s own rise in life toward success, influence, and ultimately his discovery of what is right. During this first visit, she quickly steps to her mother’s aid in the kitchen, and is depicted as obedient. Later, she regards her love for Witiko in such a way that she will first only matter one as good as him, then later only him, or else she will enter into nun hood. When she and Witiko kiss, it is a regarded as a transgression against her father. Witiko openly confesses this transgression, and Heinrich states that they will not be permitted to be with one another until each have made their way, and impacted their country. Once again, this foreshadows Witiko’s rise in the world and the ultimate castle he will grow to possess when he has made his way.
Likewise, Dimut’s story follows a similar pattern in many regards, although her path is characterized from the hospitable host when we first meet her as Witiko visits Rowno. As Rowno’s sister, and Rowno above her within the hierarchy, she is subject to his rule. She is first...