Essay on Love and Passion

Essay on Love and Passion

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When the concept of love and passion come up in literature, oftentimes the immediate reaction of a reader is one of identification or distance with the work. Love and passion are intimate and thus difficult to render universally in the external world, with the ineffectiveness of language, social and cultural impasses, and a multitude of other issues creating an “otherness” to the literary representation of the love/passion phenomena. The representation of love however, often hides within subtleties that transcend social constructs, or even perceived reality. In Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body, we are exposed to, as the book cover explains “love stripped of all of its cliché’s and categories” through ornate metaphor in a real and gripping manner. But also the effectiveness lies within Winterson’s deconstruction of societal and ideological views, which demonstrate how the unconscious impressions of modern ideology regarding love and desire cause immense conflict within one’s self, leading to a passionate anxiety, or also repression of desires through objectification of memory, as the fulfillment of our desires inevitably leads to the expression of mortality, e.g. all human emotions, even love, come to a logical end.
One of the finer points of Written on the Body is the exploration of desire in multiple viewpoints, but from one narrator. The natural erosion of philosophy of the un-named narrator can work to draw in a reader, as there is essentially no judgment. The shoes of the narrator are there to be filled as a voyeur, as a recollection or relatable experience, or as a rejection. The unabashed display of passion against social norms, highlighted vividly in the first pages by the mother of a traditional family scorning t...


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...the experience, a cathartic act of self-preservation aimed towards completion or closure, both unattainable goals, but still a desire in their own right. As quoted by Harold Bloom in The Western Canon, an out of context reference to a Friedrich Nietzsche quote, but applicable here, as the enactment of passion outside of ourselves is always the remnants of the actual experience: “That which we can find world for is something already dead in our hearts; there is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking” (Bloom 137). Once we identify the source of our passion, and quantify it against our previous experience, essentially “speak” it out within our phenomenological dialog between experience and interpretation, we are essentially the mother on the riverbank, speaking how we should be ashamed of ourselves for such excess and disobedience to traditional structures.

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