The Queen of the Night: A Mother Betrayed

It may be difficult for some to understand how any mother could sincerely sing both arias assigned to the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute. Indeed, most critics assume she is insincere, at best. In her first aria, the Queen expresses desperate suffering caused by the abduction of her daughter, Pamina. In the second, Pamina has safely returned to her mother’s embrace, only to confronted with her “wrath of hell.” I recently gained some insight into this inconsistency when I came face to face with a mother’s wrath. On a long train ride, I sat next to an older woman who was a politically active teacher and the mother of two daughters; she spoke to me as if I were one of them. She was very interested in my academic achievements and asked about my professional intentions. I told her that I enjoyed teaching and would continue to do so, but that my highest aspiration was to use my education as a wife and mother. I could have not foreseen her reaction. She screamed at me, “How dare you! I burned my bra for you!”

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