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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Love in Art

An Offer of Marriage (1883) by Marcus Stone
In Book V, Aurora continues to struggle to reach her potential in her art.

   And I am sad:
I cannot thoroughly love a work of mine,
Since none seems worthy of my thought and hope
More highly mated (410-3).

Her lack of love for her work is a direct result of the lack of love she receives in her daily life.  Aurora is a loner, living with no one and rarely going out in public.  She has no love in her life, whether of a platonic or romantic nature.  Both of her parents are dead and only Romney has expressed a romantic interest in her, though only half-heartedly.  Her main interaction with others is through correspondence relating to her work.  She has come to realize that fame for her writings is no substitute for a true sense of love from a close companion.  Aurora concludes that her art suffers due to the lack of love in her life.

Aurora illustrates that the absence of love has a negative effect on her ability to produce great works.  She uses the example of Pygmalion to show that love can help one persevere through the difficult moments in the completion of one's work.

   I am sad:
I wonder if Pygmalion had these doubts,
And, feeling the hard marble first relent,
Grow supple to the straining of his arms,
And tingle through its cold to his burning lip,
Supposed his senses mocked, and that the toil
Of stretching past the known and seen, to reach
The archetypal Beauty out of sight,
Had made his heart beat fast enough for two,
And with his own life dazed and blinded him!
Not so; Pygmalion loved,–and whoso loves
Believes the impossible (399-410).

Pygmalion had to deal with discouraging situations but had love to help him see the culmination of a masterpiece.  Love strengthens the faith and resolve of the artist.  Aurora, however, has no remedy to help her overcome any impasse she faces.  She uses the examples of Graham and Mark Gage (505-39) to demonstrate how vital a loving support system to the artist.  Graham has a loving wife who, though she exhibits no artistic talent herself, praises every aspect of her husband's character.  Mark Gage has loving parents, in particular a mother who encourages him in his art.  Aurora makes a case that without love one's best work cannot be displayed, which is why she judges her own works harshly despite praise from readers.  Being motherless, she calls Italy her mother and hopes to attain her highest abilities by returning to this motherland:

And now I come, my Italy,
My own hills! are you 'ware of me, my hills,
How I burn toward you? do you feel to-night
The urgency and yearning of my soul,
As sleeping mothers feel the sucking babe
And smile? (1266-71).

Aurora hopes Italy can nuture and perfect her gift.

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