Death in Venice

Man's Search for Human Autonomy in Death in Venice

In Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, Mann explores the struggle between impulse and logic through the symbolism of luggage presented throughout. The luggage Aschenbach clings to represents the dominance of logic over his impulses, and the effects societal restrictions exert upon his natural instincts. The evolution of Aschenbach’s relationship to his luggage illustrates his natural progression away from the influences of social restrictions and his gradual embrace of innate impulses.

Mann demonstrates Aschenbach’s gradual change of lifestyle by initially asserting the values luggage represents through associations, comparisons, and contrasts. The first instance of luggage is introduced when Aschenbach arrives at his original vacation destination, a remote island, by a motorboat that carried “him and his luggage in the misty dawning back across the water” (Mann, 15). Mann groups Aschenbach and his luggage as linked entities on the motorboat through imagery of Aschenbach located in proximity to his luggage, but also through the form of the text by placing the two subjects in close proximity on the page, in order to demonstrate his attachment to luggage. Luggage also acts as interference brought from civilization into the seclusion...

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