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By What Methods Does Mann Suggest A Political Meaning In Mario Und Der Zauberer?

1815 words - 8 pages

Mario und der Zauberer was written in 1929 at which time the Fascist regime led by Mussolini was firmly in place in Italy. This is where the book is set. Thomas Mann's audience, though, was in Germany where fascist tendencies were rising because of widespread resentment of economic chaos since the end of the First World War and by appealing to the feelings of anger at the country's defeat. Although this story can essentially be read without specifically picking up on its political meaning, contemporary readers would probably be familiar with the political situation in Italy and Germany and would therefore recognise it.Right from the beginning of the story the narrator gives us a hostile and ...view middle of the document...

This time the Italian aristocrats staying in the room next door complain about the son's whooping cough. He actually just has the remains of the illness and is in no way infectious but the aristocrats seem to be of the opinion that 'der Keuchhusten sei akustisch ansteckend und einfach für ihre Kleinen das schlechte Beispiel fürchtete.' A doctor even declares the cough as harmless but nevertheless the family must move to the 'Dependance Wohnung', outside the hotel. The Italians, and especially the upper class Italians, are given complete preference, even if their claims are not sustainable. Outside the hotel the family continues feeling the strong patriotism of the Italians. The narrator tells us:'Tatsächlich wimelte es am Strande von patriotischen Kindern, - eine unnatürliche und niederschlagende Erscheinung. Kinder bilden ja eine Menschenspezies und Gesellschaft für sich, sozusagen eine eigene Nation'.The Italian children have been so influenced by the political regime that they readily quarrel with children from other countries, even through the language barriers. They talk about 'der Größe und Würde Italians' and have apparently been led to believe that they are more important than other nationalities. This shows how Fascism was something that affected everyone in Italy. Children are especially important because they symbolise the future of the regime.The family unknowingly cause a scandal on the beach of Torre di Venere. This happens because they allow their eight year old daughter to take off her bathing suit in order to rinse it in the sea. She is only naked for a short moment and of course the family did not think that they were doing anything wrong:'Hätten wir die Welle von Hohn, Anstoß, Widerspruch voraussehen müssen, die ihr Benehmen, unser Benehmen also, erregte?'The narrator gives his daughter freedom which contrasts with the attitudes of the repressed Italians on the beach. They lie on the beach fully dressed. We are told of one man in 'städtischem Schniepel, den wenig strandgerechten Melonenhut im Nacken...'. This freedom is turned upon and the family are told that they have misused Italy's hospitality and honour. The people are extremely over-sensitive and inform the authorities who judge the offence as 'molto grave'. The family have to pay a fine of fifty lire. In this scene we are again shown the values and attitudes of ordinary Italians influenced by Mussolini. Their freedom to do as they please has been taken away to the extent that they believe that their repressed state is the only acceptable and decent way of living. The fact that the Italians act as a crowd here is also important. It is better to join the crowd than to effectively oppose the fascist regime as this could result in personal danger. The acceptance of the view of the crowd is like the acceptance of a dictatorship which relies upon the compliance and passive behaviour of its people. Under...

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