to sir with love

Topics: Art, Irony, Oniomania Pages: 2 (1072 words) Published: May 14, 2014
“Art for Heart’s Sake”

“Art for Heart’s Sake” is a short story written by Reuben Lucius “Rube” Goldberg, an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor, who lived between 1883 and 1970. He is best known as a cartoonist and a founding member of America’s National Cartoonists Society.

Collins P. Ellsworth is a wealthy 76-year-old businessman who is being treated for a form of compulsive buying disorder, otherwise known as oniomania: His uncontrollable buying habits—he can hardly suppress the urge to purchase businesses and property such as grocery stores and railroads—have precipitated a host of mental and physical problems. Dr. Caswell, his doctor, convinces him to try art therapy sessions with Frank Swain, a young art student. As the treatment progresses, Ellsworth turns his interest to painting and to the operations of art galleries. He then paints an amateurish picture, which he exhibits at the Lathrop Gallery. A letter soon arrives, revealing that the First Prize of the Lathrop Show has been awarded to none other than Ellsworth; it turns out that the old businessman has recently purchased the Lathrop Gallery.

Written in a combination of third-person narrative and direct speech, the story brings Ellsworth and his experiment with art therapy into focus, reaching its climax when the old man, almost improbably, decides to exhibit his third-rate painting at the Lathrop Gallery (“He was going to exhibit it . . . !”). The story may be divided into five sections, each of which recounts a different stage of Ellsworth’s progress: from his background as a compulsive property buyer, to Dr. Caswell’s treatment suggestion, to the art therapy sessions with Frank Swain, to the Lathrop exhibition, and finally, to the startling revelation of Ellsworth’s purchase of the gallery. [Possible section titles: Enter a Cranky Property Addict, Cajoled into Rehab, Art is Medicine, Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect, A Relapse.]

The story is told in a...
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