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The Valkyrie: Page 328
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produced their daughters, the nine Valkyries (including Bruennhilde), and the second marriage to the anonymous mortal who gave birth to the Waelsung twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. Through his marriage to Erda he sought to learn from Mother Nature the full truth about the gods’ twilight which both Alberich’s curse on the ring, and Erda’s prophecy of the gods’ inevitable end, had made him fear, and also to learn from her how to end his fear. Wotan’s hope to redeem the gods is therefore served by both his marriage to Erda, which produced the Valkyrie sisters including Bruennhilde (who inspire heroes to martyrdom in service of Valhalla), and his marriage to Siegmund’s and Sieglinde’s mother, since it is through this particular mortal race of heroes, the Waelsungs, that he hopes to redeem Valhalla from dread and dismay. In other words, Wotan must in a sense break his own law in order to preserve it. We find a parallel, of course, in the Christian distinction between the Old and New Testaments: Christ the savior makes a new contract with man, so to speak, distilling the 10 commandments, the “thou shalt nots” predicated on fear of the Lord, into the new law of love. The Christian reading is that Christ’s new law superceded the old law, and redeemed it by taking it to a higher plane, but Christ was martyred by the adherents of the old law as a blasphemer and threat to the community of the faithful.

Fricka accuses Wotan of seeking to indulge his fondness for change through these affairs, and we’re reminded that in R.2 Wotan had told Fricka that though she wished to entice him with domestic tranquility to remain content within the secure walls of Valhalla, he also had an impulse for change which would lead him outside Valhalla’s safe confines to seek domination over the outer world. But these trips outside Valhalla (i.e., outside the realm of faith, belief in the gods) also are inspired by his hope to save Valhalla’s essence from destruction by Alberich’s envy and revenge. In other words, he must go outside the safe boundaries protected and enforced by his religion-based society both to acquire objective knowledge of the world, and to save this subjective, ideal world from destruction by the objective truth. Fricka, the virtual incarnation of unexamined religious faith, can’t afford to acknowledge the truth (which would undermine faith), and therefore can’t see any reason why Wotan should seek to redeem himself from it, especially by consorting with mere mortals. For these reasons she can’t be expected to grasp why Wotan troubles himself with the Waelsungs.

One of Wagner’s sources for his characterization of Fricka as a conservative enemy of society’s renewal and redemption through creative and conscientious actions by individuals is Feuerbach. Here, in a passage previously cited in part, we find that Feuerbach’s critique of the Jesuit demand of total obedience and the consequences which follow from this is an obvious model for Fricka’s disdain for mortal man’s individual judgment, and resentment of Wotan’s desire for change:

“A Jesuit, we read in the Rule of the Society of Jesus, resists the natural inclination, innate in all men, to have and follow their own judgment … ; he must with blind obedience renounce all opinion and conviction of his own … . To suppress the ‘individual will,’ and hence also voluntary movement, is to suppress life. Like the Jesuit, like the monarchist, the speculative philosopher is the mortal enemy of life, for what he loves above all else is ‘peace and order,’ lest he be disturbed in his ideas; but life is essentially restless, disorderly, anarchic; it can no more be understood by the narrow concepts of the philosopher than it can be contained by the narrow laws of the monarch.” [349F-LER: p. 351]

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