Venice American Masks

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Venice is a city steeped in history with a rich and fascinating culture. As such, there are many interesting aspects about the city which could be the topic of further investigation, such as famous Venetians, the history of the city, or Venetian architecture. One event associated with Venetian culture that is particularly interesting and worthy of further exploration is the Carnival of Venice. Specifically, the masks worn during the Carnival – which are synonymous with Venetian culture today – symbolize the rich history of the city. Several texts and films have been explored this semester with the central setting of Venice, Italy. The written works have included The Aspern Papers, Death in Venice, Don’t Look Now, and The Merchant of Venice.…show more content…
It was written in 1888 during a time when Carnival was still banned by the government. Although it does not specifically reference Carnival, nor are the Venetian masks associated with it ever used in the story, their influence can be seen in the anonymity of the main character, who is the narrator. This man is never named in the novella. His true identity is never disclosed by the author and his anonymity is much like that assumed when wearing a Carnival mask. Although the mask is not physically present, or even referenced, the effect is essentially the same as if he were wearing one. This “invisible mask” of anonymity allows the narrator to create his own identity, which he does without being questioned by the other characters in the story. The narrator is able to keep his true identity a secret and never reveals any personal information about himself, his family, or his past. This allows him to use his disguise in order to deceive Julianna in an attempt to acquire the private papers of the famous poet, Jeffery Aspern. His singular obsession with attaining the late poet’s letters is the primary motivation behind his anonymous identity (DaRosa 832). The narrator’s anonymity makes much more sense when placed in context with the history of masks and the anonymity these made…show more content…
While the theme of anonymity might be noticed in reading the novella, its true significance within the context of Venetian culture might be missed. Researching and learning about the Carnival of Venice and the importance of its masks contributes to a more profound depth of understanding of The Aspern Papers and of Venetian history and literature as a whole. Anonymity is forever tied to Venice through Carnival and through the wearing of masks. It has permeated its culture, its social framework, and even the city itself. Venice is not only a city of romance and love, but one of anonymity, where identities can change with the donning of a mask, regardless of what form that mask may
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