Does von Aschenbach's relationship with Tadzio live up to the Platonic ideal? How does the boy's knowledge of his own attractiveness affect your evaluation?
In what ways does von Aschenbach exemplify the model of heroism that he writes about? Examine the pieces of work that Chapter Two claims he has written.
What is the role of fate in this novella? Does Mann's repetition of certain details (name them) indicate that von Aschenbach's death is inevitable? If not, how might von Aschenbach have avoided death?
What was the major factor in von Aschenbach's death--psychology or physicality? In a highly psychological novella such as this, is it believable that he succumbed to an actual virus, or was his moral corruption necessary to his death?
Perform a close reading of von Aschenbach's final dream/hallucination. Does he feel part of the savagery of the mob or does he hold himself aloof? Who is the "strangergod"?
In what way is this novella a microcosm of Europe pre-WWI? Does the travel agent represent a British perspective? What is Mann's stereotype concerning Italians? Is racism visible in this text?
Examine the changing descriptions of Venice as von Aschenbach moves from excitement at being there to feeling oppressed by the city. To what extent do the narrator's descriptions rely on the protagonist's feelings?
Does Mann view the artistic profession as inherently corrupt? Is von Aschenbach culpable for his own moral degeneration?
At the end of the novella, the world's opinion of von Aschenbach is unchanged, and the public will still react remember him based on his literary accomplishments as laid out in Chapter Two. Because all of the action in this novel occurs in his mind, has von Aschenbach done nothing wrong? Should the public's opinion of him remain unchanged? Is von Aschenbach correct in assuming that the reading public will not and should not know what inspired his great literature?
Analyze Mann's use of the free indirect style (a narrator who remains seperate from the protagonist but still has access to his thoughts). How does this add to the novella's ambivalence and ambiguities?