Plot and Character Examination
Woton is chief of the gods and keeper of covenants and
promises. He is married to Fricka, the goddess of house
and home. Woton hired two giants, Fasolt and Fafner, to
build a gleaming fortress / palace called Valhalla. In
exchange for their labor, he promised to give them his
wife sister, Freia. Unfortunately, this was a promise
he never intended to keep. Fricka is understandably angry
with her husband for giving away her sister. As the giants
come to collect their fee, Woton commands Loge to find
an acceptable payment in lieu of Freia. This results in
Loge telling the two giants of Alberich and the Rheingold.
The promise of power and the ability to escape from the
deal with the giants interests the gods, including Woton
himself. Thus begins the chain of events that eventually
lead to the destruction of the entire world, including
It could arguably be said that it was Woton greed for
possessions [his home], and hypocrisy [intended not to
keep a deal when he himself is supposed to act as enforcer
of all contracts] is primarily responsible for the downfall
of the gods. With his imprudent decision to wager the
source of his (and the other gods? immortality for a
palace (i.e., material goods), Woton was as guilty as
Alberich for the destruction of the world.
As mentioned previously, Fricka is the goddess of house
and home and wife of Woton. She is also the sister of
Freya. Fricka urges her husband, Woton, to obtain the
ring after she learns that it could be used to keep him
faithful. In Die Walke, it is Fricka who tells Woton
that he must defend Hunding marriage to Sieglinde against
the Siegmund. Woton is reluctant because he believes that
Siegmund could save the gods by restoring the Rheingold;
however, if he refuses to defend Hunding, he will lose
Freya provides the other gods with golden apples that
ensure their eternal youth and power. Her abduction by
Fafner and Fasolt after the completion of Valhalla is
devastating to the gods, who begin to age immediately.
Had Freya presence not been absolutely essential to
the survival of the gods, Woton and company may not have
gone to the trouble to rescue her.
Alberich sets in motion the entire Ring by renouncing
love and taking the Rhinegold from the Rhinemaidens. After
his brother, Mime, fashions the gold into a ring of immense
power, Alberich enslaves the other gnomes of the underworld
(Nibelheim) and forces them to mine gold for his treasury.
Alberich obtains a magical helmet (the Tarnhelm) that
allows the wearer to change shape and size. Loge and Woton
descend into the underworld and trick Alberich into turning
into a frog, after which they steal the helmet and force
him to give up his wealth to Fasolt and Fafner. He curses
the ring, saying all those who possess it will encounter
envy and death until it returns to his hand.
In the opera, Alberich represents the archetype of power
being evil and loveless. Some authors have interpreted
his character as Wagner embodiment of the evil ew?.
Fasolt and his brother, Fafner, built Valhalla for Woton
in exchange for Freya. When Woton attempted to back out
of the deal, it was Fasolt who refused to allow it, due
to his infatuation with the goddess of youth. It was also
Fasolt that refused to accept Alberich wealth in exchange
for Freya unless it was enough to hide her from view.
When Woton eventually gives up the ring to the giants
(to fill the gap in the wall of gold that hides Freya),
they begin to fight and Fafner kills Fasolt. *Gottfried
trine journey: A Wagner faces his ugly heritage, by
Daniel Mandel. Published in the July 2000 edition of AIJAC
?the Australia / Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.