Death in Venice

Discovery in Venice: Setting and Sexuality in Mann's Narrative 11th Grade

One thing workaholics are tired of hearing is “you need a vacation!” The classic workaholic has no idea when they have worked enough, and usually has trouble making the decision to take a break for even a short period of time. Workaholic Gustav von Aschenbach, a middle aged writer living in early 20th century Germany, is in desperate need of a vacation to clear his mind and recharge. His life is comparable to that of a machine, constantly working without break and lacking true meaning. Aschenbach’s life goal is to maintain a high status in society and to be continually recognized for his great work, and consequently he is left with no time left for real introspection. It is because of this that his life is a monotonous, never ending cycle of superficiality and oblivion to his own identity and, more specifically, to his homosexuality. In 20th century Germany homosexuality was forbidden, and sexuality itself was a topic that was swept under the rug. Aschenbach’s superficial goals conflict with this part of his identity, for in order for him to achieve success he must deny his sexuality entirely. This built up frustration causes him to yearn for vacation, for “a fresh scene, without associations,” (15) and after a little bit of...

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