Mario and the Magician Illness and Deformity
In Thomas Mann's "Mario and the Magician," Mann uses illness and deformity to symbolize the driving force towards disaster. It is in the illness of the characters that the setting for disaster is made, which then beings on a downward spiral once the character of Cipolla enters the story. Cipolla is not only mentally ill, but he is deformed. Much of his deformity is left a mystery for it is described so vaguely by the narrator. The first episode of illness starts with a whooping cough. After the whooping cough episode, another display of illness, not only physically but also in regards to the illness of character, is a child with "disgusting raw sores on his shoulders" (Mann 534). Shortly after these two episodes, the narrator even contemplates terminating his vacation to leave behind the already present disasters. Unfortunately for the narrator and his family, the downward decent into total tragedy was not over; it had nearly begun. The next several episodes that set the stage of disaster are in Cipolla's deformity. Due to the illness of the characters and the deformity of Cipolla, the entire story is doomed for catastrophe.
Primarily starting with the whooping cough, total calamity was not far away for the narrator and his family. When some high Roman aristocracy became concerned with the whooping cough of the narrator's child, a doctor is called upon to inspect the child. Once the doctor finds that the cough is not contagious and there is nothing to worry about, the manager of the hotel insisted the narrator and his family move hotels. This first creates the scene of a bad vacation. The narrator says, "I dwelt upon the incident too much, it irritated me in retrospect" (Mann 533). He goes on to fume about his unhappiness with the intensity of the sun and how day after day it becomes dull. Everything was irritating him. He explains, "Without that stupid business of the whooping cough I might not have been...
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