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Wagner Beyond Good and Evil$
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John Deathridge

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254534

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254534.001.0001

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“Pale” Senta Female Sacrifice and the Desire for Heimat

“Pale” Senta Female Sacrifice and the Desire for Heimat

Chapter:
(p.18) 2. “Pale” Senta Female Sacrifice and the Desire for Heimat
Source:
Wagner Beyond Good and Evil
Author(s):

John Deathridge

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520254534.003.0002

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

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