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Thread: Mime's role in Siegfried.

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    Default Mime's role in Siegfried.

    I'm curious what people think about Mime's role in Siegfried. When I first watched the opera, I felt like he honestly cared for Siegfried, and like he honestly felt pain at being rejected by him, until he began to talk about poisoning him after he kills Fafner.

    If he is really just evil and malicious, why so much of "alas! this is the thanks I get! I brought you up, a little child, I gave you food, I gave you a couch on which to sleep soft, bla bla bla" (by the way, this music is FANTASTIC, though it took a while for it to grow on me). There's something incredibly erie and haunting about this whole situation, with Mime having raised him, after the tragic spiraling of events in Die Walküre.. it's just.. it's creepy, it's strange and compelling and amazing!

    But, who exactly is Mime? Does he have any feelings for Siegfried at all? Or is all that stuff just malicious and fake acting on his part, to try and keep Siegfried there as long as possible?

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    e: never mind, I'm dumb
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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    While it's always possible to speculate on the complex, conflicted workings of the human (or dwarfish psyche), I don't think Wagner intended Mime as anything other than a malicious, scheming character. True, he raises the child, but presumably that was always with the intention of profiting from his charge's future heroics. And yes, he goes through a catalog of all the things he's done for the boy, but we may want to take this self-serving litany with a grain of salt. Siegfried himself says that he had to beat Mime just to get the dwarf to teach him to speak, so maybe the parental concern was never really all that genuine.

    And in case there's any doubt on the matter, Wagner seems to underline Mime's malicious character right before the dwarf's death. Tasting the dragon's blood enables Siegfried to understand the true meaning behind his foster father's words. At this point, Mime's longing to see Siegfried dead becomes all too clear. Of course, it's still possible to feel some pity for the dwarf when Siegfried strikes him down, but I think Wagner went out of his way to prevent us from doing so.

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    I feel like he's an incredibly complex character.. I don't see how all his complaints in the first act could just be a malicious act. He cared for Siegfried for years and years, he made him toys, he makes him soup... I mean, it really seems as though he's hurt by Siegfried's rejection of him. Why else would he act that way?

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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    When I say that Mime is malicious and scheming, I don't mean to suggest that there is no complexity to the character. As an analogy, pick any truly horrible dictator in history. You'll no doubt find that they had their moments of suffering, compassion, perhaps even tenderness. But you still can't help but be appalled by them as pretty monstrous specimens--which I would maintain is the case with Mime.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Of course Siegfried couldn't have been anyone's idea of an easy child. A few manners might have gone down well.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member waldvogel's Avatar
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    In a modern society, if Mime were to be accused of child abuse, he could always say that it was the only way that he knew to bring up a child. After all, Mime was abused by his big brother, Alberich.

    The music that Wagner uses for Mime's death seems to be both brilliantly satirical and deliberately cruel. Is Mime the only "bad guy" who dies during the Ring? I don't count Fasolt and Fafner as bad guys - I'd like to be paid for my work, and I'd be prepared to do something nasty if I weren't.

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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Of course Siegfried couldn't have been anyone's idea of an easy child. A few manners might have gone down well.
    Quote Originally Posted by waldvogel View Post
    In a modern society, if Mime were to be accused of child abuse, he could always say that it was the only way that he knew to bring up a child. After all, Mime was abused by his big brother, Alberich.
    Siegfried might have been an easier child with a better parent than Mime. Mime might have been a kinder person with a better brother than Alberich. There’s always that thorny question of where to draw the line between traumatic background and individual responsibility.

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    By the way, how old is Siegfried supposed to be in 'Siegfried'? 15? It seems like he's about 15, right? Even the most bratty 20 year old would not speak the way he does, unless there's a real mental disorder involved.

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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macgeek2005 View Post
    By the way, how old is Siegfried supposed to be in 'Siegfried'? 15? It seems like he's about 15, right? Even the most bratty 20 year old would not speak the way he does, unless there's a real mental disorder involved.
    I don't think it's specified, but that sounds about right. He's frequently referred to as "knabe" or "kind," so he can't have reached full adulthood yet.

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Like others said above, I haven't noticed any goodness or redeeming qualities. It all seems self-serving and malicious, which doesn't exclude that he might have experienced some ambivalent fondness for baby Siefgried.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Yeah, I can see how logically there isn't anything redeeming, but there just seems to be a real authenticity behind his laments in the first act. A malicious guy who raises someone just in order to be able to collect a treasure does not behave that way. In the first act, for the most part, he behaves exactly as though he were a very well intentioned dwarf who honestly cares for Siegfried and who is heartbroken that Siegfried is rejecting him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by macgeek2005 View Post
    Yeah, I can see how logically there isn't anything redeeming, but there just seems to be a real authenticity behind his laments in the first act. A malicious guy who raises someone just in order to be able to collect a treasure does not behave that way. In the first act, for the most part, he behaves exactly as though he were a very well intentioned dwarf who honestly cares for Siegfried and who is heartbroken that Siegfried is rejecting him.
    But see, in "real time" there isn't much time spent between the first and third acts, so, how do you reconcile everything he's been saying with his clear death wish on Siegfried just a few hours later?
    Last edited by Almaviva; Jul-23-2011 at 17:57.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macgeek2005 View Post
    In the first act, for the most part, he behaves exactly as though he were a very well intentioned dwarf who honestly cares for Siegfried and who is heartbroken that Siegfried is rejecting him.
    His thoughts in Act II are pretty explicit to the contrary:

    "from love I reared you not,
    you nuisance:
    the treasure in Fafner's keeping,
    the gold was what I toiled for.


    He puts on the same lamentful facade with his spoken words to Siegfried in Act II as in Act I, but his completely malicious thoughts behind them are now revealed by the dragon's blood.
    Last edited by Couchie; Jul-23-2011 at 19:31. Reason: unusual sunspot activity

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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    I don't think it's specified, but that sounds about right. He's frequently referred to as "knabe" or "kind," so he can't have reached full adulthood yet.
    The "jung Siegfried" always struck me as a teenager -- mouthy, rebellious, and hormones in high drive!

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