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Mime, Siegfried, Hagen, Loge, and Character Notes

Richard Wagner - The Ring Cycle

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Mime

Mime is Alberich’s brother. It was Mime who forged the ring from the Rhinegold and the Tarnhelm. He had hoped to use Tarnhelm to outwit his brother and steal back the ring. It is also Mime who found Siegfried in the woods as Sieglinde was dying, raised him, and later attempts to forge a sword for him that cannot be broken. He had kept the fragments of Nothung (which he offers as proof of his story), but doesn’t have the ability to reforge the sword.

Later in the story, Mime wagers his head against a disguised Woton. Woton wins, leaving one who has, “known no fear”, to kill Mime (of course, we know this to be Siegfried). As was the case with his brother Alberich, Mime hopes to outwit Siegfried and take back the ring to gain world domination and ultimate power. He is killed by Siegfried after attempting to give him a poisoned drink.

Siegfried

The husband of Brünnhilde (making Woton his grandfather from both sides), and son of Siegmund and Sieglinde. Siegfried is the hero of the story, although we continually see him deceived and manipulated by characters such as Mime, Hagen and Gunther. It was Siegfried who forged Nothung after Mime confesses he lacked the ability and used it to kill Fafner. He gave the ring to Brünnhilde, who refused to give it up despite advice to do so.

Siegfried is eventually killed after Brünnhilde, believing him to be unfaithful, reveals his weakness to Hagen. After discovering that Siegfried was deceived, Brünnhilde burns his body, herself, and the rest of the world (by bidding Loge to burn Valhalla).

Loge

Loge is the fire god who eventually returns to his elemental form and destroys everything (I find it interesting that in the beginning, Loge mutters his desire to do just this). In Das Rhinegold, Woton awaits the arrival of Loge, hoping he will have the wisdom to get the chief god out of his mess with the giants, implying some sort of inherent wisdom. It was also Loge who proposed the gods steal the gold, just as Alberich did. It was Loge who tricked Alberich into changing into a frog and stole the Tarnhelm. Loge creates the ring of fire that surrounds Brünnhilde.

It is Loge’s character that represents the purifying force of fire. He is a direct offshoot of Wagner’s association and admiration of Bakunin, who fostered this idea of burning the establishment. The influence of Bakunin will be discussed later in the essay.

Hagen

The half brother of Gunther and Gutrune. He is the son of Alberich. In an effort to gain control of the ring, he convinces his siblings to use a magic potion to marry Brünnhilde and Siegfried themselves. They each get spouses; he gets complete world domination. It was Hagen who convinced Gunther to help him murder Siegfried. Hagen kills Gunther in a quarrel over the ring after Siegfried is murdered.

A Note on the Characters

It is important to note that each of the important characters had possession of the ring at one time, and each refused to return it to its rightful owners. Although Alberich was the first to steal the gold, we see the same behavior in characters such as Woton, Brünnhilde, and even the “hero” Siegfried. It is possible that Wagner was implying they were all guilty and, as a result, deserving of the punishment that comes in the end.
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