A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 664
Go back a page
664
Go forward a page

& #129b; #87 interspersed with, & then segues into, violins which ascend into #98 [where is #139, based on #24, the basis of the ascending violins?])

Siegfried has now heard Wotan’s confession that Wotan was his father’s enemy, for it was upon Wotan’s spear that Siegmund’s sword once broke. Siegfried takes up the gauntlet of his father and breaks Wotan’s spear in revenge.

Wagner had a tendency to compare some of his most striking characters, or himself, with the great protagonists of his models in literature, opera, and drama. Wagner on one occasion identified himself with Shakespeare’s Prospero from The Tempest, and in his following observation about Prospero’s (and Shakespeare’s) final action, his renunciation of his magic (and, Wagner adds, renunciation of knowledge and the modern world’s achievements), and the breaking of his magical staff, in exchange for a world of music, we find Wagner interpreting Prospero as an image of Wotan. Like Prospero, Wotan’s spear is broken, but in Wotan’s case it is broken by his heir, his ideal, new self, Siegfried, who will waken Bruennhilde, i.e., waken the legacy of music which Wotan has left for Siegfried:

“R. talks to me about ‘The Tempest’; during the afternoon he had already expressed his astonishment and admiration for Prospero’s words as he breaks his magic staff. ‘He gives up everything, the miracle of knowledge – I have the feeling that I can understand that to mean the achievements of our modern world – for music!’ “ [1122W-{3/28/82} CD Vol. II, p. 832]

The presence here of #66 – as Siegfried identifies the Wanderer, Wotan, as his father Siegmund’s foe - suggests that it represents the “Noth” which both Waelsungs, Siegmund and Sieglinde, suffered unwittingly for Wotan’s sake, because there is no mention of Sieglinde here, but only Siegmund, though #66 was associated on many previous occasions with Sieglinde only. Siegfried was afraid neither of Loge’s fire, nor of Wotan’s spear. But it is not Loge’s fire itself which inspires fear: his ring of fire represents the veil of Maya, or Wahn, which first religious man, and then the artist-hero Wagner, employs to hide its true source of inspiration, man’s fear of the truth. It is what this fire masks, what is contained within the protective circle of fire, that is the source of fear. For this reason Loge’s ring of fire does not intimidate Siegfried, but the sleeping Bruennhilde will frighten him to the core of his being, because, if he wakes her, he is at risk of waking that hoard of knowledge which Wotan found so unbearable that he couldn’t tolerate consciousness of it, and therefore repressed it into his unconscious mind, Bruennhilde, during his confession.

In breaking Wotan’s spear Siegfried has broken the old social contract which had been the basis of virtually all human societies up to modern times, has therefore overthrown the beliefs, customs, and laws with which man has traditionally tamed each individual’s egoistic impulses (the Giants), in order to create a functioning society. It is to be presumed that Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love, secular art, will provide mankind a new value-system to replace the old, a value system Wagner believed (on the basis of the morality of art for art’s sake) would be purified of all egoism.

Wotan’s resignation in the face of the inevitability of the twilight of the gods is conveyed by the

Go back a page
664
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.