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The Rhinegold: Page 224
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Loge: (#42:) So small that the finest crack can hold you, in which a frightened toad might hide (:#42).


Alberich: (#42:) Pah! Nothing simpler! Look over here (:#42)! (He puts on the helmet.) (#43?:) ‘Crook-legged and grey, creep, you toad (:#43?)!’ (He disappears: the gods become aware of a toad creeping towards them over the stones: [[ #49 ]])

 

Loge: There, the toad! Grab it quickly! (Wotan places his foot on the toad: Loge seizes it by the head and takes the Tarnhelm in his hand.)

 

Alberich: Oh! Curse it [“Verflucht”]! I’m caught! (Alberich has suddenly become visible in his own form, writhing beneath Wotan’s foot.)

 

Loge: Hold him fast until I’ve bound him. (Loge binds his hands and feet with a length of rope: #5). Quickly up now! There he’ll be ours! (Both of them seize their prisoner, who makes furious attempts to resist, and drag him with them towards the crevice through which they had entered. #19 vari &/or #20a or #20b vari?; #37?. They disappear, climbing upwards. The scene changes as before, but in reverse order. #41; #5. Once again the change of scene leads past the forges. #40; #26a; #20a modulation or #20b vari?. continuous upward movement. #5; #26a; #33b; #16? or #13/#15?; #5; #33b; #5 vari: Wotan and Loge emerge from a cleft, leading the bound figure of Alberich.)

When Loge asked Alberich to choose himself the form he will take, to demonstrate his ability to alter his form through the Tarnhelm’s wonder, the form Alberich chooses to transform himself into is the Serpent or Dragon (the same form into which Fafner will later transform himself). The Serpent and his Motif #48 represent not only man’s existential fear of death, but also his fear of the truth (knowledge of which would overthrow those religious beliefs through which we console ourselves for our inevitable mortality with the illusion of immortal life). This is the basis of religious faith’s censorship of freedom of inquiry. It is precisely this fact, that Alberich alone has the courage to face the truths engendered by full consciousness (i.e., the price of wearing the Ring and wielding its power), which insures that ultimately it cannot be successfully, or at least permanently, stolen from him. For, as Alberich himself suggests, no matter what form the Tarnhelm (imagination) transforms man’s image of himself into, no matter what identity man gives himself, Alberich’s egoism is the driving force behind it. This is the source of Alberich’s self-confidence.

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