Siegfried’s Ring and Wagner’s Ring

Wendy Doniger

in The Ring of Truth

Published in print May 2017 | ISBN: 9780190267117
Published online March 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190621759 | DOI:
Siegfried’s Ring and Wagner’s Ring

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The story of Siegfried and Brünnhilde is told in medieval Norse and German sources, retold by Ibsen and, most famously, staged in Wagner’s four-opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelung. In each retelling, Siegfried’s betrayal of Brünnhilde is treated differently, at first blatantly accepted, ultimately papered over by magic that fogs his memory of his love for her. But in every telling, a ring is what reveals the truth to Brünnhilde. What is the meaning of this pattern (which we have also encountered in earlier chapters, such as the story of Shakuntala and her forgetful royal lover) of the use of a ring in later variants to exculpate a hero who, in earlier variants, is an unmitigated cad?

Keywords: Siegfried; Brünnhilde; Norse; Ibsen; Wagner; opera; ring

Chapter.  11258 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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