Depression in Sexual Repression
According to Freud, sexual desire is the drive behind everything. "Death in Venice" by Thomas Mann and The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham are no exceptions; both stories are fueled with it. Aschenbach and Strickland spend the majority of their lives repressed. Aschenbach's life is based on strict schedules and discipline. Strickland lives a life in a society he doesn't enjoy. When they go against society and dip into their desires, they both become consumed by them. Restrained passion can lead to discord, as is the case in both of these protagonists.
From childhood, Aschenbach in "Death in Venice" bases every action and thought on self-discipline and reason. Aschenbach bases his artistic talent on perfectionism and self-discipline. The first page of the novella describes him at work: "He was overwrought by a morning of hard, nerve-taxing work, which had not ceased to exact his uttermost in the way of sustained concentration, conscientiousness, and tact" (Mann 3) In Aschenbach's mind, excessive passion would impede his pursuit of excellence.
A sex life would interfere with his art, so he is without one. He attributes every part of his success to his discipline and lack of sexuality: "Yes, one might put it that his whole career had been one conscious and overweening ascent to honor, which left in the rear all the misgivings or self-derogation which might have hampered him" (Mann 12). Aschenbach throws his discipline as well as his pursuit of excellence out the window on his trip to Venice. The man who begins with faultless discipline and restraint joins a class of people that he was previously disgusted by.
Strickland in The Moon and Sixpence has a beginning that mirrors that of Aschenbach. He leads a normal life with a wife that is respected by...