Venice represents the sensuous south that stands in stark contrast to Aschenbach’s serious native Germany; furthermore the setting of Venice is symbolic in this novella. The physical journey of Aschenbach from culture to another and from one climate to the other is in parallel with his internal descent from cool control to fiery passion. Venice in particular is symbolic for Aschenbach himself as Venice is famous for its exceptional and its bold constructions. Built in the middle of a lagoon, and preserved by pure determination over the forces of Mother Nature. Much like Venice, Aschenbach believes that art can conquer physical needs and natural impulses, and he has demonstrated this through his numerous art forms. Though Venice is magnificent, it cannot be denied that it is a city that is gradually sinking, and decaying from within. This, once again can be said about Aschenbach’s morals.
The use of Venice as the setting in Mann’s work does not appear to be a co-incidence. Mann’s intention may have been to reinforce the atmosphere of atrophy and deterioration in Gustave Aschenbach’s life through the underlying character of the city. The Venice used in this nov...
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...o be ignored; his travels ultimately results in hopeless infatuation, mental torture and death.
I feel that Thomas Mann very intricately incorporates the setting of Venice to bring out the theme of death and it is almost as if Venice is a whirlpool in which Aschenbach gets sucked into and eventually results first in the death of his art and then to his own death. He gives Venice a convincing miasma of a city in decline, rotting away yet beguiling its visitors and admirers, much like Aschenbach and his art. He had lost his art and had been tempted by memories of a previous visit to revive it in Venice. Yet truth and reality cannot be hidden forever and in Venice, Aschenbach finally encounters the reality of the city, his own mortality and the mortality of his art.
Page 167 in the Novella – Death In Venice
Page 190 in the Novella – Death In Venice
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