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Death in Venice Essay: Love for Tadzio or Venice?

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Aschenbach: In love with Tadzio, or Venice?

 

Thomas Mann's Death in Venice presents an artist with a fascination for beauty that overpowers all of his senses. Aschenbach's attraction to Tadzio can be viewed as a symbol for his love for the city of Venice. The city, however, is also filled with corruption, and it is this corruptive element that kills him.

 

Aschenbach first exhibits his love for Venice when he feels that he must go to "one of the gay world's playgrounds in the lovely south"(6). The south, to him, means something new and exciting. He has lived a structured life in Germany, filled with order and precision. He feels the need to move, to experience new and different aspects of life; since for Aschenbach, "there is no doubt that the south will bring him the fulfillment of his wish for self-release"(Jonas 35). Upon his arrival, Aschenbach immediately "drinks in the fabulous beauty" of the city. He notices a distinct difference between this foreign land and his homeland, for Venice is filled with antiquity and classical beauty. Aschenbach's love for the city is already app...


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...captivated by it. He is so enthralled, that he does not realize the problems with the Italian city. Whether Mann is actually attacking Venice or Italy for the corruption of its beauty is a possibility, but not very important here. What is most important is to realize that Mann is discussing an infatuation with beauty in general, not an infatuation with a boy. Aschenbach does not die because of Tadzio, he dies because of what the boy represents. The novella is titled so for a reason; it is a Death in Venice, or rather a "Death Because of Venice".

 


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