Disease and SexualityDisease. This is a condition affecting the body of an organism from either external or internal factors. It can usually hurt people not only physically, but also emotionally thus altering personalities; Many can be cured, but on the other hand there are few which can be fatal. In Thomas Mann’s novella, Death in Venice, Gustav von Aschenbach is an uninspired writer who decides to travel to Venice after a vision that draws a curious allure of sensation. Along the way he meets Tadzio, a young boy who represents innocent pleasure and becomes the object of his infatuation. Throughout the novel Aschenbach goes through the stages of his body and mind deteriorating from physical, psychological, and emotional abnormalities. In Death in Venice, Thomas Mann demonstrates that sexuality and is essentially a form of disease through the character Gustav von Aschenbach. When the body is first exposed to a foreign environment it can react in two ways. One way is to adapt and adjust so one does not notice a difference, thus a healthy immune system. The other is to attack and destroy the unknown and in the process hurting oneself. In beginning of the novel we are introduced to Gustav, a famous northern European writer, who has a very placid life. He is use to the north environment filled with intellectuals and aristocrats and “too preoccupied to be an amateur of the gay outer world, he had been content to know as much of theearth’s surface as he could without stirring far outside his own sphere…” (6). When he decides totravel to southern Europe and become inspired, his body and mind must adapt. This new sensual place is an environment that Gustav is not familiar with and the mind must adjust to the “disease” which is southern Europe. By introducing Gustav to a new place, the reader foreshadows that he may not able to adapt, thus weakening his psychological state.
Disease is also unknown and can come from anywhere. It usually does not have a path but when it strikes, one can only go along with it. When Gustav walks into the gondola, he does not know of what or where he will be going with the traveler, but chooses to accept it. Similar to disease, one cannot fight it but let it take it’s course until one recovers or dies from it. Gustav