Parsifal, Richard Wagner’s last opera, is considered by many to be Wagner’s greatest work. The complexity of Wagner’s characters has posed difficulty for scholars. My research led to a new sense of the meaning of Parsifal, specifically focusing on the character of Kundry who is, in my opinion, continuously misinterpreted. This necessarily produces a new meaning for the entire work.
While studying Wagner at the Newberry Library in Chicago, I was able to utilize many scholarly resources, but my most important source was the libretto of Parsifal. My interpretation comes not only from the ideas of other scholars, but from my own interpretation of the libretto. The result is a new interpretation of Parsifal. I found that Kundry, the main female character is actually the most powerful character. I will discuss Kundry’s motivation: she gives the other characters personal identity while wishing to recover her own identity. I propose that, in Parsifal, identity is the ultimate form of redemption.
Marika von Zellen, ’12
Major: English and Creative Writing
Sponsor: James Martin