Motif 20: The Ethical Question
German names: ethischen Frage
Although Wagner said that he had
dispensed with the Question that features in his sources, there is a Question that appears several
times in Parsifal. This three note fragment is heard first in the orchestra, when Parsifal reveals that he does not know the meaning of good and evil. Wagner wrote
to King Ludwig that this knowledge was the meaning of the kiss.
The Ethical Question motif is a thematic element that can be found within several other motives: Nature's Healing, Klingsor's Magic and Agony
In his Das Geheimnis der Form bei Richard Wagner, volume IV, Alfred Lorenz called this
das Motiv der ethischen Frage; he identified another
das Urmotiv der Frage, the basic motive of the Question: g, f#, a. So if anyone needs a Question motif, there are at least two candidates.