Love And Passion Essay

1112 words - 4 pages

When the concept of love and passion come up in literature, oftentimes the immediate reaction of a reader is one of identification or distance with the work. Love and passion are intimate and thus difficult to render universally in the external world, with the ineffectiveness of language, social and cultural impasses, and a multitude of other issues creating an “otherness” to the literary representation of the love/passion phenomena. The representation of love however, often hides within subtleties that transcend social constructs, or even perceived reality. In Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body, we are exposed to, as the book cover explains “love stripped of all of its cliché’s and categories” through ornate metaphor in a real and gripping manner. But also the effectiveness lies within Winterson’s deconstruction of societal and ideological views, which demonstrate how the unconscious impressions of modern ideology regarding love and desire cause immense conflict within one’s self, leading to a passionate anxiety, or also repression of desires through objectification of memory, as the fulfillment of our desires inevitably leads to the expression of mortality, e.g. all human emotions, even love, come to a logical end.
One of the finer points of Written on the Body is the exploration of desire in multiple viewpoints, but from one narrator. The natural erosion of philosophy of the un-named narrator can work to draw in a reader, as there is essentially no judgment. The shoes of the narrator are there to be filled as a voyeur, as a recollection or relatable experience, or as a rejection. The unabashed display of passion against social norms, highlighted vividly in the first pages by the mother of a traditional family scorning the narrator’s desired for not observing “proper” activity by swimming unclothed in front of a family. Interestingly, the objection of the mother to exposing a family, which in modern times is positioned as a result or outcome of love and passion, if “done correctly”, to what the narrator sees as a pure expression of beauty and desire seems to play with the idea that following convention means that you aren’t seeing the grandeur of life. Much like the family the narrator overhears/sees, those who are following the normal path of love/passion are either complaining about what they see and disapprove of for those who don’t notice anyways, or are distracted by the alienating influence of modernity (the father and his television) and miss the passion within their own family, as well as the beauty in the world.
This concept continues throughout the book, as the narrator returns to various relationships, some fleetingly, some in detail, but all in regards to the comparison against the current passion at hand. The talk of cliché’s at the beginning of the book resonates near the end, as the narrator is confronted near the end, by Gail, over what she had done wrong in leaving Louise. As the narrator illustrates through her...

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