Sunday, August 1, 2010
Lohengrin - The Knight in Shining Armour?
'A Knight in Shining Armour' that's what every damsel in distress could do with! A strong, good looking handsome man that will come along out of the blue and rescue a maiden .
It is every girl's dream, 'Elsa's Dream' from Lohengrin, an early opera by
Richard Wagner, for those unfamiliar with the music it is where the popular Bridal wedding March 'Here comes the Bride' comes from.
Lohengrin is on the surface a fairy story where once again an innocent child/ woman is rescued by a hero.
Elsa is accused of murder and is in danger of being burnt as a murderess if she cannot find a Knight who will fight for her honour. She prays for such a Knight and low and behold a handsome Knight in the form of Lohengrin turns up clutching a swan.
Lohengrin, for that is his name but nobody knows it, is everything a girl could desire. He is rich, good looking, strong with great social status. Lohengrin even asks Elsa to marry him but and it is a big BUT there is one condition, there always is. Elsa is not to ask his 'name' or from 'whence he came'.
Now this is like asking Eve not to eat the apple. Once someone is told not to do something trivial it become almost obligatory that one does. After all Elsa doesn't know Lohengrin from Adam. Lohengrin could be anyone and why shouldn't a girl know the name of whom she is marrying? So she asks for his name and Lohengrin departs!
So like a man, duty first - wife second! If Lohengrin had been a real man and loved his wife he would have stayed but no he takes off leaving his wife to get on with it alone.That will teach her a lesson. Do what you are told or face the consequences.
Times have changed. In Wagner's time Elsa used to be considered the villainess. How like a stupid woman! All she had to do was to keep her mouth shut and know her place. Lohengrin was the hero let down by his wife and in justice had to depart. He told her the conditions and like Eve, Elsa stuffed up! Punishment is obligatory. All women are stupid and need to be controlled.
Today it is somewhat different. Now it is Lohengrin who is made to look like a real jerk that he is. The conditions were unreasonable and Lohengrin stood to benefit from the bargain He could after all win the contest with one hand tied behind his back and anyway the girl was innocent. Any decent man would have rescued her and departed without payment or stayed on regardless of any silly promise.
First sign of trouble and Lohengrin's off and yes a woman should know who she is marrying. Arranged marriages with the bride in total ignorance of the partner for life is now not socially unacceptable. Given a good lawyer and a sound judicial system Elsa would have got off and been allowed to keep her property.
Wagner would be surprised!