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The Valkyrie: Page 306
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of the key indictments of atheism proffered by religious men, that without the supernatural, the immortal, loving soul (or at least, without “belief” in supernatural influence over human affairs), man would automatically act solely according to self-interest. It is not always possible to distinguish whether believers put more stock in the true existence of the supernatural, or merely in the importance for social stability that men believe it. In all their arguments they ignore or casually dismiss the possibility that though the scientific understanding of human nature is ugly (note the Nibelungs are ugly), it might well be true. In fact the ugliness, the moral repugnance of this proposition, is regarded by them as proof of its illegitimacy and falsehood.

Describing his instinctive hatred of Siegmund and his type, Hunding expresses his contempt for those who exhibit individual conviction by standing up for authentic feeling against the coercion of custom, habit, tradition, and religious faith. He delivers this parting shot before turning in for the night while threatening Siegfried with his intent to avenge Siegmund’s crime against Hunding’s kinsmen on the morrow. Hunding is, of course, a loyal adherent of the social norm that one must extend courtesy to a guest, so he grants Siegmund a single night of rest in his home prior to the duel of honor.

Here we have the famous pantomime sequence during which Sieglinde prepares Hunding’s night-drink, putting a sleeping potion in it, and, accompanied by #57ab (Wotan’s Grand Idea for redeeming Valhalla from Alberich’s curse, embodied by the sword Nothung) indicating with her eyes the hilt of the sword Wotan (in disguise) thrust into Hunding’s house-tree the day she was wed, against her will, to Hunding. #57b is the original nature arpeggio, symbolizing Wotan’s hope that his free Waelsung hero will restore lost innocence. #57a stems from the octave drop on Erda’s “Endet,” symbolic of change, the inherent transitoriness of all phenomena in the world, including mortal man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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