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Siegfried: Page 669
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#132b vari; #12 frags?: He then lifts away the breastplate and greaves, so that Bruennhilde now lies before him in a woman’s soft garment.)

One motif in particular expresses Siegfried’s aesthetic arrest, #23. Feuerbach’s identification of feeling, the heart, with the domestic life, may have inspired Wagner’s conception of #23:

“Feeling, the heart, is the domestic life … .” [147F-EOC: p. 285]

Siegfried has now taken notice of the sleeping warrior in armor, and initially has an impulse to ease the warrior’s breathing by removing some of his armor. At first Siegfried removes Bruennhilde’s helmet and, when her luxuriant, long hair falls out of it, is filled with amazement and awe, again underlined by #23. Unable to pull off the armor, Siegfried resorts to Nothung to cut it. It goes without saying that Siegfried is metaphorically penetrating Bruennhilde’s defenses, her Valkyrie chastity, with a phallus. This is by no means a strained reading, as Bruennhilde will later in this scene complain that Siegfried, by cutting lose her armor, has taken away her virgin defenses, and in fact will initially react with terror at the prospect of sexual union with Siegfried, recalling that as a goddess her virginity was always respected. Furthermore, in T.2.4 Bruennhilde will employ Nothung and its sheath as a metaphor for Siegfried’s sexual union with her. When we recall also the graphic sexual imagery of Siegfried’s smelting and forging songs in S.1.3, and Sieglinde’s ecstatic response when Siegmund, her future lover, pulls Nothung out of Hunding’s house-Ash, the evidence is clear: Wagner wanted his audience to regard Nothung as, among other things, a phallus, but not in the literal sense. Nothung represents the creative impulse in nature itself, which, according to Wagner, the artistic genius inherits. Here Wagner took his cue from Feuerbach, who equated natural necessity with sexual reproduction. [See 275F]

#23 was introduced in R.2 as Erda expressed her hope that the domestic tranquility of Valhalla would content Wotan and keep him from wandering away in search of change and new sexual conquests. Wotan countered that, even so, he would still long to conquer the outside world, i.e., to obtain power, and that in a world of change Wotan has an unconquerable impulse to wander. But Wotan is now resigned to the powerlessness, the inwardness, of aesthetic contemplation, which renounces active efforts to interfere in the outer, objective world, and #23’s presence here seems to proclaim Wotan’s (and therefore Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s) newfound peace and contentment. #23, in other words, expresses the notion of a paradisal complaisance which should satisfy man’s longing for security. Yet in R.2, when Fricka introduced #23, Wotan was not contented, and insisted that a real, living, physical struggle for mastery (of earth and men), and change of scene (novel experience), is also to be valued.

#23’s next significant recurrence, after its introduction in R.2, was later in R.2 when Loge pointed out that with gold forged under the Ring’s spell by Alberich’s Nibelungs a woman could ensure her husband’s fidelity to her. Significantly, Loge’s suggestion seems to foreshadow Siegfried’s eventual use of Alberich’s Ring as the wedding Ring he gives to Bruennhilde (in T.P.2) to seal their love-bond. Considering that Fricka herself represents the hearth and home, marriage, conservative values, religious faith, tradition, i.e., stasis and quiet, #23 by late in R.2 has taken on a more comprehensive meaning: it represents all that man hopes to gain in heaven (Valhalla) that he believes he can’t possess on earth. Presumably, Wagner’s employment here of #23 to express the

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