The Symbol of the Heart in The Floating Opera Essay

The Symbol of the Heart in The Floating Opera Essay

Length: 1088 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Symbol of the Heart in The Floating Opera  

 
The heart is the dominant symbol in The Floating Opera, more important even than the symbol of the showboat of the novel's title. From beginning to end the book is richly populated by references to the heart on both a literal, physical level, and a figurative, symbolic one. In the first case, literal references are made to Todd's heart condition. In the second case, the heart plays two symbolic roles; not only does it serve as a symbol of Todd's emotional and non-rational side, but the frailty of Todd's heart serves as a correlative for the fragility of all human life. This paper will examine several examples from The Floating Opera that demonstrate this multi-levelled usage of the heart.

Hearts make an early appearance in the text, in the very first chapter, when Todd describes his heart condition; a "kind of subacute bacteriological endocarditis"1. This condition predisposes Todd towards myocardial infarction (heart attack), and consequently Todd writes, "What that means is that any day I may fall quickly dead, without warning - perhaps before I complete this sentence, perhaps twenty years from now."2 Although this may seem to be a purely literal device, Barth is using Todd's heightened awareness of the delicateness of his own life as an exaggerated symbol for the vulnerability of all human life.

This early focus upon the heart continues due to the centrality in the novel's plot of Todd's decision to kill himself, and his subsequent "change of mind". At the core of this decision to suicide is Todd's realisation that his life has been governed by his heart (his emotions), despite his best efforts to live by will, reason and intellect:

"My heart was the master...


... middle of paper ...


...when Froebel had Parnassus in his pan?"8

This quotation is demonstrative of both the inability of reason to overcome emotions - the very problem which Todd has grappled with for much of his life, and which lies centrally in The Floating Opera - and also of Todd's acute awareness of that inability. This, like so many of the "facts" in the narrative, has both a symbolic and a literal meaning, and shows the extent to which the heart and what it stands for permeate the fabric of the entire novel.

Bibliography

Barth, John, The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, Anchor Books, New York, 1988.

Endnotes

1 Barth, John, The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, Anchor Books, New York, 1988, p. 5. (All subsequent page numbers refer to this book.)

2 p. 5.

3 p. 226.

4 p. 49.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 p. 124.

8 pp. 94-5

 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Writing Against Death in The Floating Opera

- Writing Against Death in The Floating Opera          In the opening chapter of The Floating Opera, Todd Andrews makes an observation that storytelling is not his cup of tea, because digressions are impossible to contain, and that makes it hard for him to concentrate on a particular line of narration; every image he creates breeds other images, words bring about other words, there being no end to "new figures and new chases" (Barth 2). This remark suggests that Todd's existence is, indeed, confined to the reality he forges by telling his tale; this fictitious reality regenerates itself....   [tags: Floating Opera Essays]

Strong Essays
1319 words (3.8 pages)

Essay about Phantom Of The Opera Comparison

- The Phantom of the Opera To understand the entirety of a concept one must see it from all angles and visions to learn to appreciate the beauty it portrays. I believe this entirely especially when it comes to arts specifically theater. Not only was theater introduced to me very early on in my younger years I had a burning desire to pursue it and understand its complicities. The Phantom of the Opera both in the Broadway musical of 2011 and the movie filmed in 2004 are in my opinion the most profound performances theater has ever scene....   [tags: The Phantom of the Opera, The Phantom of the Opera]

Strong Essays
1183 words (3.4 pages)

Essay The Peking Opera

- Chinese Opera is one of the “three oldest dramatic art forms in the world” (travelchinaguide), along with “Greece tragic-comedy and Indian Sanskrit” (travelchinaguide). From Chinese Opera comes many forms of opera, over 300 types (travelchinaguide), but the most well know would be the Peking Opera. The Peking Opera is known by many names, like “Eastern Opera” (ebeijing), and “jingqiang” (Xu), but the most common name in the Western world is the “Beijing Opera” (Wertz). Peking Opera is over 200 years old (Wertz).It started in approximately “1790, when four opera troupes from the province of Anhui came to Beijing to perform on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the emperor, Qianlong” (HISTOR...   [tags: Beijing Opera]

Strong Essays
859 words (2.5 pages)

Analysis Of Phantom Of The Opera Essay example

- Phantom of the Opera is the longest running musical to date, as it has been touring non-stop for 28 years. Phantom is known as being a tremendously heart wrenching performance that centers around a love triangle and angst. The love triangle involves Christine Daae, Raoul, and the Phantom, who is also known as Erik. Christine came to the Opera Populaire as a young child where she grew up mastering the arts when her father passed. The Phantom was a man deformed at birth and was shown in a freak show until he eventually ran away as child and found shelter in the lake beneath the Opera House, where he found Christine and became captivated with her....   [tags: The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber]

Strong Essays
1038 words (3 pages)

Archetypal Characters and Symbols in The Phantom of the Opera Essay

- Archetypal Characters and Symbols in The Phantom of the Opera          The story of The Phantom of the Opera appeals to many types of personalities and people of all ages because of its archetypal characters and patterns.  Carl Jung theorized that we are born with innate tendencies to perceive things a certain way:  "a kind of readiness to reproduce over and over again the same or similar mythical ideas . . ."1.  These repeated ideas are archetypes.  The basic legend of The Phantom takes place in 19th century Paris, and is that of a young and talented, but untrained singer named Christine.  Erik, the Phantom, is a disfigured genius of many fields, including music, architecture, magic, and...   [tags: Phantom Opera Essays]

Strong Essays
1724 words (4.9 pages)

Essay Phantom Of The Opera Project

- The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Hall-25 Anniversary Celebration was filmed for the 25th anniversary for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s critically acclaimed Phantom of the Opera. The script was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The show is based off of the book Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. The show opens in Paris 1905 at an auction of old theater props from L’Opera Populaire. As they are auctioning off old props of the theater they come up to an old music box with a monkey on top of it....   [tags: Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Singing]

Strong Essays
2009 words (5.7 pages)

Essay about Analysis Of Phantom Of The Opera

- Masked in Mistreatment The Phantom of the Opera Can mistreatment alter one’s identity. An unkind word, a rude deed, a neglectful act, or all the above can scar someone for a lifetime. One character who certainly felt these pains, the mysterious Phantom of the Opera, changed his entire appearance after an abused childhood. Due to a facial deformity, he became a target for much unkind, unaffectionate treatment early in his life. From the afflicted, ugly-faced, circus spectacle to the brilliant, authoritative, opera ghost, the Phantom transformed his boyhood identity completely only to have a sudden change of heart at the show’s climax....   [tags: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Opera, Love, Musical theatre]

Strong Essays
871 words (2.5 pages)

Film Analysis : ' Phantom Of The Opera ' Essay

- Sound is what brings movies to life, but, not many viewers really notice. A film can be shot with mediocre quality, but, can be intriguing if it has the most effective foley, sound effects, underscore, etc. Sound in movies band together and unfold the meaning of the scenes. When actors are speaking, the dialogue can bring emotion to the audience, or, it can be used as the ambient sound. Music is one of the main things to have when filmmaking. The use of Claudia Gorbman’s Seven Principles of Composition, Mixing and Editing in Classical Film gives audiences a perspective of sound, and, how it can have an impact on them....   [tags: Film, Feature film, Film score, Opera]

Strong Essays
1453 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Symbols and Symbolism in Heart of Darkness - The Symbol of Ivory

- The Symbol of Ivory in Heart of Darkness In Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad often uses vague,"muted" descriptions, leaving a melange of possible meanings in the reader's lap. One exception to this trend is Conrad's symbolic use of ivory. Within the frame of the story, his references to ivory can obviously be seen as a representation of the white man's greed. Towards the end of the book ivory comes to symbolize the oozing evil that drips from the heart of darkness. It isn't long before Conrad makes a commentary on the greed of the whites....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
539 words (1.5 pages)

Essay On Opera

- Opera, in its simplest definition, is a form of the stage production that where the story is told primarily with music and singing that originated in Florence, Italy. Alternatively phrased as “Musical drama.” It incorporates acting, instruments and occasionally ballet. A song sung in an opera as a solo is called an “Aria” and a song sung in pairs is called a “Dueto” Every line is sung, including the most ordinary ones. Costumes are glitzy and dramatic to draw attention to the actors. Musicians are placed in an orchestra pit in a lowered area in front of the stage....   [tags: Opera, Music, Opera house, Royal Opera House]

Strong Essays
996 words (2.8 pages)