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
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.
harmless clown :
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
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.
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.
usage, which he wants to make of it, is clear: to enslave
and to torture the people as he himself was tortured and enslaved.
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.
theme, which describes his old tune, arises from the first
notes of the theme of the Lance, the Lance of the compacts.
victim of Nazism :
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.
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.
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.
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.
will live up to the end as a scarecrow. (Intended to stay
forever with gold; Siegfried will later mock at him).
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 ".
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:
Mime also underwent an unbearable solitude because of Siegfried,
Mime's hatred explains the nostalgy of a family from which the teenager
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
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.