Law and/or Justice in Richard Wagner's “The Ring of the Nibelung”

  • أ.د. أريج الخفاجي University of Al-Qadisiyah
  • أ.م.د. هند أحمد الكروي University of Al-Qadisiyah
Keywords: Deconstruction, Derrida, Justice, Law, Wagner


Usurping ontological stability by the two dictators of Walhalla and Nibelheim opens the question of law and/or justice in Richard Wagner's “The Ring of the Nebilung”. The choice of and/or, of yes/no in the title of this paper is a Derridian torture, or (un)decidability between the polemic and the logic of supplement. It is a rewarding deconstructive method of interrogating the juridico-ethico-political discourse in Wagner's Ring Cycle. The power-struggle between gods, giants and gnomes and the subsequent human tragedy show that in the history of law (droit), legality is the construct of power, not of justice. Wotan's spear and the immense power given to the Rhinegold owner indicate, both in the libretto and music, the “enforceability of law or contract”, “violence that one always deems unjust”. However, 'it is just that there be law,' or the accessibility to law as law provides a 'possibility of justice,' says Derrida. Reading the supreme piece of Wagnerite music drama in the light of Jacques Derrida's ideas, this study seeks to find new interpretive potentialities. It aims at a deconstructive examination of the text by destabilizing the foundations of law, morality and politics. This study assumes having preliminary musical knowledge on the part of the reader.


We would like to acknowledge the impact of T.F. Kelly's online course, 19th-Century Opera (HarvardX MUS24.7x), on the writing of this paper.
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How to Cite
الخفاجيأ. أ., & أحمد الكرويأ. ه. (2024). Law and/or Justice in Richard Wagner’s “The Ring of the Nibelung”. Al-Qadisiyah Journal For Humanities Sciences, 26(4), 7-34. Retrieved from