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The Valkyrie: Page 415
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Wotan: (suddenly erupting in terrible anger: #81:; #83:; #84 &/or #85?:) But Bruennhilde – woe betide the betrayer! The shameless child shall be fearfully punished once my horse overtakes her flight (:#81; :#83; :#84 &/or #85?)! (He disappears amidst thunder and lightning. #83; #68 vari?. the curtain falls quickly)

Wotan is filled with despair and self-reproach at the role he felt compelled to play in punishing Siegmund for breaking the gods’ law, an act which, after all, Wotan brought Siegmund up to perform. Wagner captured precisely Wotan’s feeling of despair as a ruler who can only sustain his rule by catering to the good of the whole society, often at the expense of what Wagner described as the purely-human considerations of individual conscience, in a moving discourse explaining why the lives of Rulers are the basis of so many great tragic dramas, previously cited [See 700W] at length, but which Wagner summarizes below:

“… the King desires the ideal, he wishes justice and humanity; … the very claims made on him by his office …, by making him a traitor to the Idea he represents, would plunge him into those sufferings which have inspired tragic poets from all time to paint their pictures of the vanity of human life and strife. True justice and humanity are ideals irrealisable: to be bound to strive for them, nay, to recognise an unsilenceable summons to their carrying out, is to be condemned to misery.” [700W-{64-2/65} On State and Religion: PW Vol. IV, p. 22]

The presence at the end of V.2 of the anger motifs #84 and #85, as well as the Motif of Wotan’s Frustration #81, and the Gods' Need Motif #83, convey the strange mix of emotions in Wotan. On the one hand both #81 and #84 recall Wotan’s own recognition that he could never find a hero truly free of Wotan’s influence and therefore freed from all that Wotan finds so loathsome in his own nature, the influence of Wotan’s fear of the end, a hero who would spontaneously, freely as an expression of his own need (“Noth”), breach the gods’ law and religious faith in order to preserve the essence of religion, feeling, from destruction. It was this self-reproach, anger directed against himself, Wotan’s self-loathing, which is the root of his anger at Bruennhilde for supporting an ideal which Wotan’s conscious mind has begun to acknowledge is illusory and futile. On the other hand #83 tells us that it is only through Bruennhilde’s rebellion against Wotan’s ostensible will that the free hero Wotan longs for can obtain for the gods a temporary lease on life, through religious faith’s sublimation into feeling, in authentically inspired secular art.

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