Death in Venice: an Analysis Into Aschenbach’s Lust and Its Role in His Death

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Aschenbach was certainly an honorable character. He was a renowned artist driven by an insatiable thirst for excellence in his craft, considering perfection “the basis and most intimate element of his talent.” He was a productive machine, emanating “motus animi continuus” even in adolescence that prevented him from ever-knowing “sloth” or the “carefree laissez-fair attitude of youth.” (8) He worked among the “edge of exhaustion, [alongside] worn down moralists…[using] ecstatic feats of will and clever management to extract from [himself] at least for a period of time the effects of greatness.” (10) Approaching his mid-fifties, Aschenbach was in a masterful state producing works of global recognition; however, the discontent he once used to fuel his devout perfectionism, surmounted into a lack of enjoyment in the work he produced “and it seemed to him as if his work lacked those characteristics of fiery inventiveness which, as creations of joy, contribute more to the pleasure of the readership than some innermeaning.” (6) Intent on leaving familiar summer landscapes along with his “discontented slow progress” behind; Aschenbach succumbs to a rare indulgence of travel, which takes him to Venice. Aschenbach is greeted by a Venice shrouded in a grey dismal fog. The ominous atmosphere lulls him into a state of somnolent languor as he checks into the hotel. However, this mood is suddenly relinquished when he sees Tadzio- an adolescent boy, of polish descent, with a face “reminiscent of Greek statues from the noblest period of antiquity, [combining] perfection of form with a unique personal charm.” (21) For the first time, the artist driven by a tantalizing pursuit of perfection is presented with perfection itself in the form of this boy. Aschenbach is immediately taken aback, doubting that “anything in nature or art could match [Tadzio’s] perfection.” (22) This sets
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