“The Piano Teacher”
“The Piano Teacher” is a novel written by Elfriede Jelinek and first published in 1983. It was made into a motion picture directed by Michael Haneke and won three major prizes at the Cannes 2001 festival including best actress for Isabelle Huppert and best actor for Benoit Magimel. Erika Kohut is a piano teacher at the Conservatory of Vienna. She is a very up tight, rigid and cold person. As I kept reading the book I understood that it was not her fault she came up to be this way. Her mother was very protective of her, even at 30 years of age. They lived together, slept in the same room in the same bed; she didn’t have her own room, only her own closet to organize her clothes. Erika’s mother was always telling her what to do and how to do it; she ran her life and didn’t let her daughter live her life in a healthy and normal way. Erika never came out of her shell, she had always the same routine and her mother knew every step she took since she was the one trying to control her life. Erika’s father left them when she was born, she never had a relationship with him, he later died but it didn’t shock her life in a big way since she didn’t really know him. Living in an atmosphere like Erika’s, I could understand why she grew up to be as mentally disturbed as she was. Erika didn’t really feel alive; she didn’t have any excitement in her life, no love affairs, no adrenaline rushes, no nothing, just her routine: teaching piano lessons at the conservatory and heading back home to confront her mother as she did every day and every night. One night she discovered a way to feel alive, she ended up at a porn store and came in to see what it was all about. She saw pornographic movies and magazines; there were booths with prostitutes and televisions so that the clients could see porn in their private space. She came into one of these booths, with no expression on her face, she just reluctantly watched as people on the screens were having intercourse in a very disturbing way. She enjoyed watching these scenes; she felt something inside, something that made her sweat and feel aroused. After discovering this spot, she kept on going back on her free time, it was her escape time, a time where she just let her mind be blank and live in the moment while watching those pornographic movies. Her mother obviously didn’t know about what she was doing when she got out of work and didn’t get home on time. Every time Erika got home to her mother, she would lie about where she was, she would say she had to take an extra hour with one of her piano students. Another way Erika tried to feel her emotions and not feeling so numb all the time was by getting into the bathroom, locking the door and sitting on the bathtub, where she cut herself and build up rivers of blood. In a way she was into masochism, she enjoyed the pain since she didn’t know what other emotions felt like. She would cut herself various days of the week before having dinner with her mom at their dinning room table. She knew how to hide the scars that were left after the tremendous cuts she left on her body, she made sure she covered herself with long skirts and long sleeved blouses. She was scarring inside and out, her skin was healing in a natural way leaving her marks in her arms and legs but her feelings were too delicate and were still scarring for all the things she had been through. Another pleasure of Erika’s was buying expensive clothes she would never wear; she just hung them in her closet and only tried them before going to bed, since she didn’t have anywhere else to wear them. Her mother always got very mad at her since they were trying to save money to get a new and bigger apartment, but Erika kept spending her money buying all these expensive dresses. Erika was an excellent pianist, she played beautifully, she could have been a famous musician, but she ended up just being a piano teacher, she was into the arts since she was a...
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