Death In Venice

986 words 4 pages
Emma Fisher
Brother Williams
English 251
Transformation from Apollonian to Dionysian
Writers often bring mythology into their writing to give the storyline and characters more depth and complexity. In Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, Mann uses the gods Apollo and Dionysus and the struggle between opposites to demonstrate the ultimate downfall of the novella’s main character, Aschenbach. Often times, a writer creates a character as a representation of the Apollonian character and another separate character representing the Dionysian character of the novel. Thomas Mann chose to have the same character, Aschenbach, demonstrate the extremes of both ends of the spectrum, beginning as overly Apollonian and slowly becoming overly Dionysian which
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Aschenbach is led out of his orderly world of reason and strict discipline and brought to the irrational and passionate world inhabited by the strange "god" Tadzio. In a delirious dream he surrenders his will over to his desire, to be one of the worshippers of a strange god "who was worn enemy to dignity and self-control" (68). It is here that Dionysus overthrows Apollo in Aschenbach's life. After this point, he finds pleasure in fantasizing in the prospect of being left with Tadzio alone as the sickness spreads. He is no longer ashamed of this immoral wish as "it seemed as though the moral law were fallen in ruins and the monstrous and perverse held out a hope" (69). The narrator describes Aschenbach to be “drunk in both head and heart, and his steps followed the directions dictated by the demon who takes pleasure in trampling human reason and dignity beneath his foot” (45). At this point in the novella, Aschenbach has strayed completely from Apollonian and has grown to be excessively Dionysian. Aschenbach abandons all reason and replaces it with a primal lust leaving him to “dream of the boy in his absence” and infatuate over his beauty. After the discovery of the plague, Aschenbach lives a Dionysian way of life and chooses to remain in Venice. Dionysian principles have completely possessed Aschenbach as his sexual desire for Tadzio grows. Venice is in a growing state of frenzy as rumor of the plague breaks out and reflects the chaos

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