Siegfried: Act One, Scene Three - Mime's forge: Mime and Siegfried
To illustrate graphically the nature of this Feuerbachian existential fear, which follows man everywhere because it is his essence, Wagner dramatized it in Mime’s following bizarre attack of nerves. This prompts Mime’s imagination to visualize a variety of inchoate, indefinable horrors (set to orchestral music evoking both Loge’s protective ring of fire which surrounds Bruennhilde to scare off all but the fearless hero Siegfried, and the Serpent Motif, #48, which represents not only the form into which both Alberich and Fafner transform themselves, with the aid of the Tarnhelm, but specifically existential fear), culminating in his horrific vision of an attack by Fafner:
Mime: (#35:; #33b:; #48?:) Accursed light! (#35:; #33b:) Is the air there on fire? (#100:) What’s flashing and gleaming, (#34>>/#48:) what’s glinting and whirling, (#35/#33b, #48?:) what’s floating there, weaving and wavering round? (#100) #33b/#34>>/#48:) It glisters and glows in the gleam of the sun: (#33b/#34:) what’s rustling and buzzing (#48?:) and now even roaring? (#34>>>:) It booms and crashes and crackles this way! See, it bursts through the wood, is making towards me! (He rears up in terror.) Grisly jaws are gaping towards me! – The dragon is trying to catch me! Fafner! Fafner (:#35/#33b; :#48)!
Siegfried: (still off-stage, his movements evident from the sound of twigs snapping in the bushes) Hey there, you idler! (#111:) Say, have you finished (:#111)? (#110: Siegfried enters the cave.) Quick! How’s the sword coming on? (#104/#34, #41?: He stops in surprise.)
Feuerbach provided another highly evocative description of the nature of this existential fear, which he describes as a natural consequence of the abstract, generalizing nature of the human mind, which seems to capture what Mime has so vividly and comically illustrated:
“When we explain religion by fear, we must … take into account not only the lowest form of fear, fear of one natural phenomenon or another, the fear that begins and ends with a storm at sea, a