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Meet the Characters

  • Wotan
  • Rhinemaidens

  • Hagen

  • Sieglinde

  • Gunther

  • Siegmund

  • Donner

  • Freia
  • Siegfried

  • Brünnhilde

  • Erda

  • Loge
  • Mime :

    Mime is as high in colour as the Froh - Freia - Donner set of three is hardly scenic. Directors take advantage of it to make the public laugh at his expense. Unlike Alberich, Mime is pitiful, a ridiculous worker, a vain pedant and a cowardly schemer.

    Mime has neither the means of ambitions, nor the intelligence of Alberich's Machiavellism. Like Alberich, Siegfried and Wotan, the public needs a scapegoat to laugh at.

    But two common interpretations risk to give a biased image of the dwarf: the ridiculous and harmless clown, the Jew scapegoat and the victim of Nazism.

    The harmless clown :

    Many features of the dwarf's behaviour are explicitly funny. When Siegfried forges his sword, one sees the chap bustling with eggs, spices and a frying pan, and the contrast of both activities is funny. Similarly, Wagner found particularly funny the scene during which the dwarf works hard to hide his criminal project from Siegfried, and panics when he notices that his tongue forks ceaselessly.

    Mime's features are described by several motives. First of all, the rhythm of the forge ceaselessly follows him under its original shape with two rhythmic and melodic variants.

    The original shape describes the industrious smith. The first variant describes his lame and unsightly step, the second the shiver which seizes him when he is invaded by fear. The other motive: rumination. Mime does not stop building plans, meditating some intrigue.Mime is cunning, but his little schemes fail for lack of intelligence. Monomaniac like his brother, he lives only for his obsession: to take revenge, to conquer the Ring.

    The usage, which he wants to make of it, is clear: to enslave and to torture the people as he himself was tortured and enslaved.

    Mime's other distinctive feature comes from his rumination: the radotage. Incapable to create, he can only imitate. As he ages, he calcifies and can only repeat mechanical gestures.

    The theme, which describes his old tune, arises from the first notes of the theme of the Lance, the Lance of the compacts.

    The victim of Nazism :

    A new conformity wants absolutely to throw in the Wagnerian drama the image of the Jew: Beckmesser in Meistersinger, Klingsor in Parsifal, Alberich, Mime and Hagen in the Ring. Of the three characters, it is Mime who was most assimilated to the Jew of the anti-semites. One compared his vocal line to that of the songs of Synagogues and Yiddish intonations. Besides, Wagner's regrettably too famous papers, justify the emphasis that was put on his talent as an imitator, his inclination for intrigue, his creative infertility. The contrast with Siegfried - the pure Aryan seems blinding only for Nazis and anti-semites, and for those who suffer from them.

    Seemingly blinding, but there is risk that it may blind us too. Indeed, the description of Mime belongs to myths and popular tales and does not need to refer to any Judaism. The dwarf is limping and wrinkled, ugly, scheming, disgusting and a good artisan, simply because the legend wants him so! Regrettably Mime's theoretical assimilation to the Jew led to a real forgery of scenic indications.

    This projection of Nazism and genocide on the Mime-Wotan-Siegfried relationships was exploited, as it is said, in different purposes. The partisans of Hitler threw their aversion on the dwarf and their ideal of force and beauty on Siegfried; the wild anti-Nazis had sympathy for Mime who became a victim, and made of Siegfried the obnoxious rejection of the poor hard working smith.

    The Mime-Wälsungen relationship becomes that of the victim and the executioner. In Chéreau's stage setting the assimilation is taken to the extreme. Mime is an intellectual with glasses and in a housecoat. When he understands that Wotan condemned him to death, he is terrified and tries to pack his suitcase, a poor man's boiled cardboard suitcase. But the Lance used as a bar imprisons him and delivers him to his executioner.

    During the execution, the "killer child" dances a sort of dance of the scalp in front of him, brandishes bloody sword as a totem and as if hypnotizing the dwarf. The dwarf is seized and impaled on the vertical branch of a tree.

    He will live up to the end as a scarecrow. (Intended to stay forever with gold; Siegfried will later mock at him).

    I have shown Siegfried's indisputable sadism many times. When Mime gives the fatal sleeping drug to the boy, he actually says: " even if I did not hate you so much, even if I should not take revenge for so much ill-treatment and for shameful humiliations... I should have to kill you because with you living, I would be safe nowhere ".

    The orchestral accompanying of these verses is of the most curious. One hears it at three other occasions: first, when Siegfried evokes the cosy nest of birds, second, after the death of the dwarf, when he envies the birds because they are surrounded with affection, third, when he complains about his solitude and asks for advice to end it. This association can be interpreted in two different manners:

    1. Mime also underwent an unbearable solitude because of Siegfried,

    2. Mime's hatred explains the nostalgy of a family from which the teenager suffers.

    To put this episode in its just perspective it is advisable to evoke an abnormality in Mime's relationship with Wotan. Indeed Wotan decreed that Mime's head would fall to Siegfried. In other words that he would be the executioner appointed to execute Wotan's judgment. What crime committed Mime to deserve the death? He did not to receive the God willingly. He is the one who practically obliged the dwarf to accept the deal. He simply wanted to be left in peace. Wotan did not leave him the choice, while knowing that the bet would be lost.

    The most shocking is that the God enjoyed himself with the cowardice of the dwarf, and the comic effect resulting from the judgment with death and strengthened during the execution leaves the worst of impressions, which risks to entice sympathy for the dwarf by making him a victim. One cannot refrain from wondering if Mime is not considered as a lower being to deserve neither consideration nor condolence, and of which one gets rid by laughing, as the child who kills the bird with knocks of sling or crushes the snake.

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