Essay on Art as a Reflection of Life in Death in Venice

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Art as a Reflection of Life in Death in Venice Death in Venice explores the relationship between an artist, namely Gustave von Aschenbach, and the world in which he lives. Aschenbach, destined to be an artist from a young age, represents art, while his surroundings represent life. As the story unfolds, Aschenbach endeavors on a journey in an attempt to relinquish his position in society as an artist. Aschenbach wants to experience life, as opposed to merely reflecting upon it, as he has done for so many years. This attempted change of lifestyle can also be interpreted as a transition from the ways of Apollo to those of Dionysus, an archetype dating back to Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy. Aschenbach's journey throughout Death…show more content…
Aschenbach's resolution to travel is not described by the author as a voluntary act, but instead portrayed his destiny. Mann writes, Aschenbach "regarded travel as a necessary evil." (Mann, 6) His life had been filled with order, austerity, and isolation, essentially elements of an Apollonian lifestyle. Due to the regularity and predictability of his previous life, Aschenbach's decision to travel can be interpreted as an act of fate, thereby making the man on the portico a messenger. Upon being summoned by the messenger, Aschenbach's first destination is Trieste, a word meaning "sad" in French. Appropriately enough, this concurs with Aschenbach's outlook towards his upcoming travel. The next event of Aschenbach's twist of fate takes place on the small boat ferrying him to Venice. While onboard, Aschenbach takes note of an elderly man not acting his age. Mann writes, "But the young-old man was a truly repulsive sight in the condition to which his company with youth had brought him." (Mann, 19) Seeing a drunken old man passing away the time with the youth is not what disgusted Aschenbach. On the contrary, Aschenbach saw himself in the old man, and rejected the direction which his life had taken. The alcohol is symbolic for the Dionysian surroundings in which Aschenbach finds himself, namely the relaxed, happy, and carefree elements of the scene. However, Aschenbach is fated to stand back and reflect on the scene instead of becoming a part of it because he
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