Death in Venice

The Artist's Struggle in the Work of Thomas Mann

In his works "Tonio Kröger," "Death in Venice," and "Tristan," Thomas Mann discusses the artist's struggle in terms of who he is, who he should be, and who he will be. In the three works, the artistic protagonists struggle with either a metaphorical or physical sickness, stemming mainly from their inability to reconcile the two polarities with which every artist struggles. Attempting to overcome these "sicknesses," the artists react to their problems differently, and in each of their reactions one can see Mann's assertion of what can become of an artist. In order to overcome his difficulty, Tonio Kröger attempts to face his problems head-on, thereby moving towards eliminating them. Gustave von Aschenbach, however, runs from his metaphoric sickness to its polar opposite, which makes him even sicker. Finally, Deltev Spinell runs away from his issues, but towards nothing, which causes him to remain perpetually sick.

In all three works, the artist seeks to find a medium between the two polarities that drive him. Friedrich Nietzsche's theory on Greek tragedy influences Mann's view of this artist, who must aim to maintain balance between the Dionysian, or passionate and...

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