“Pale” Senta <i>Female Sacrifice and the Desire for</i> Heimat

John Deathridge

in Wagner Beyond Good and Evil

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254534
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934610 | DOI:
“Pale” Senta Female Sacrifice and the Desire for Heimat

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Wagner was attracted to images of androgyny in opera. The image of androgyny, whether seen as a shifting balance of masculine and feminine features in a single figure, or as a symbol of unity between a man and woman, is little more than a conveniently unstable notion that at any given moment can suggest a kind of benign two-way traffic between genders. This brings to an important iconic aspect of Senta. Wagner handed over to Senta a great literary and symphonic tradition based on Goethe's Faust. In Wagner's way of thinking only her rootedness in folklore traditions and customs can assure her of redemption and make her worthy of assimilation to his symbolic order, in which the German spirit of the north reigns supreme. Her paleness is a sign of that rootedness and carries traces of difference that made it hard for Wagner to contain her within his ideological boundaries.

Keywords: Wagner; androgyny; Senta; Faust; paleness

Chapter.  5138 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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