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The Valkyrie: Page 294
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Siegmund: A drink! A drink!

 

Sieglinde: I’ll fetch some refreshment. (She hurries to fetch a drinking-horn, goes out of the house with it and, returning with it full, offers it to Siegmund: #62; #63) Comfort I offer to lips that are parched: water, just as you wanted! (#62: Siegmund drinks and hands back the drinking-horn. [[ #64: ]] As he signals his thanks with a movement of his head, his gaze fixes on her features with growing interest.)

A variety of motifs, several significant, are introduced in this prelude. Cooke has provided their genealogy: #60ab, a compound motif comprised of the embryonic form of #21, and #32b; #61, which is based on #55, and is possibly a basis for #84 and #85; #62, which is a slowed down variant of #60a; #63; and 64ab, another compound motif, in which #64a is based on #22, and is the basis for #74, and related to #99 and #106, while #64b is based on #25, #39, and #40, and is the basis for #80b, #133, #140, and perhaps #145.

#60, the storm motif based on #21 (Wotan’s spear of contracts and authority) and #32b (the thunder of Donner’s motif), signifies that Wotan, the Wild Huntsman, is hunting down Wotan’s son Siegmund for defying society’s rules, which seems ironic at first since we will soon learn that Wotan, disguised as a mortal, has deliberately brought Siegmund up to defy divine law. Wotan’s authority (#21), and authoritarian persona, is embodied on earth by the conservative social establishment under divine law which cares more for peace and security than justice for the individual. Sieglinde’s husband Hunding and his clan represent the “establishment” in this sense, which instinctively feels “danger” in the presence of any human being who exhibits freedom of thought and feeling.

#61 is merely an expressive motif stemming from the lightning associated with Donner’s thunder, i.e., symbolizing in this context the importance of fear to social order and belief in divine beings:

“Certain peoples … have no other word for God than thunder, so that their religion expresses nothing other than the shattering impression which nature’s thunder makes upon man through the ear, the organ of terror. (…) Considering that it was thunder which pounded religion into man, we may … term the eardrum the sounding board of the religious sense and the ear the womb of the gods.” [197F-LER: p. 27]

#60, which is in essence the Embryonic form of #21, Wotan’s spear of contracts and authority, slows down to transform into Siegmund’s Motif #62. #62’s derivation from #21 expresses the irony that though Siegmund is the social revolutionary Wotan desired, whose individualistic conscience has more weight with him than the need to make compromises for the sake of social acceptance,

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