Twilight of the Gods: Act Two, Scene Five - Gibichung Hall: Bruennhilde, Hagen, Gunther, Siegfried, Gutrune, and the Gibichung vassals and women
Bruennhilde takes a cue from Siegfried, asking herself what demon’s art lies hidden in her tragic fate:
Bruennhilde: (wholly absorbed in her thoughts: #164:) What demon’s art [“Unhold’s List”] lies (#87:) hidden here? (#167) (#164:) What store of magic (#87:) stirred this up (:#164; :#87)? (#87) Where now is my wisdom against this bewilderment? (#87) (#87?:) Where are my runes against this riddle (:#87?)? (#87) (#64?) Ah, (#5:) sorrow! Sorrow (:#5)! (#5:) Woe! (#5:) Ah woe (:#5)! (#134:) All my wisdom I gave to him: (#150) (#150 varis:) in his power he holds the maid; (#150?) in his bonds he holds the booty (#150?) (#150?:) which, sorrowing for her shame (:#150?), (#150?) (#150?:) the rich man exultantly gave away (:#150?) (#164 [not #167 in a very dissonant vari?]; #21?)
This passage provides one of the primary clues which grants us entre into the most inward layer of our allegorical reading of the Ring. As Bruennhilde asks what demon’s art lies hidden in Siegfried’s betrayal of their love, we hear both #164, the motif representing Bruennhilde’s latest tragic interpretation of Wotan’s warning that Bruennhilde would bring about her own punishment in living for love (feeling) while ignoring objective reality. We also hear #87, the “Fate Motif,” which of course represents the knowledge of world history and the gods’ fated end (Wotan’s divine “Noth”) which Mother Erda imparted to Wotan while, at the same time, he planted within her womb the seed of longing for redemption from this knowledge, this truth, that came to birth as their daughter Bruennhilde, the redeemer. One aspect of this fate is that all that remains unconscious is destined, in the natural course of evolution, to rise to consciousness. This is the metaphysical meaning behind Alberich’s sacrifice of love (instinctive feeling) for the sake of power, the power of the reflective human mind (the Ring). We also hear the so-called “Murder Motif” #167, which represents the fact that Alberich and Hagen can only hope to regain the power of the Ring if they murder Siegfried: only with his death can their lost power be restored, because Siegfried is the last refuge of religious feeling (Valhalla) in a scientific, secular world, the last hold-out of the gods against Alberich’s claim to power. However, Siegfried’s death is itself is a metaphor for the end of unconscious artistic inspiration, the rising to consciousness within Siegfried’s own art of the unspoken secret which Siegfried’s art was originally meant to keep, not expose to the light of day.
Again accompanied by #87 (Fate), Bruennhilde asks where her wisdom has flown, that might have aided her against this bewilderment, and asks where she might find her runes against this riddle. And now it dawns on her. Siegfried, in forcing the Ring from her protective hands, and giving her