“Goodness is nothing in the furnace of art.” Discuss how this statement by Salieri is explored through the key concepts and characters of the play Amadeus.

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In Amadeus, Salieri presents himself as a conventionally well-behaved man who wanted to excel as a musician. This was his attitude toward his own creativity, his successful musical career, and his treatment of other people. But once Salieri meets Mozart, all these ideas are cast into doubt. Mozart does not embody goodness—Salieri finds him an “obscene child”—and Salieri's jealousy of the young genius turns him into a monomaniac. Salieri starts behaving far worse than Mozart ever did. Mozart’s bad behavior was rooted in his youth and naïveté.

The quotation is part of Salieri’s first speech in act II:

“I was a good man, as the world calls good. What use was it to me? Goodness is nothing in the furnace of art.”

Salieri errs in asking this question—goodness, I would argue, is a virtue only if it does not seek to be rewarded. Doing an action that one does not believe in, for the purposes of gain, is a manifestation of the sin of pride. A true artist is not distracted by caring what the world calls them. The burning creativity in the “furnace” moves the artist to make genuine art, and social norms are a distraction to them. The metaphor of a furnace for creativity often appears as a “crucible,” where alchemists mixed and heated their transformative concoctions.

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Salieri's statement helps to bring out the intensity that is present in the construction of art.  The dynamics that are revealed in the friendship and antagonism of Salieri and Mozart is that the construction of art is all- encompassing.  This is a setting where one sacrifices everything for the development and continued sustenance of art.  This is the "furnace" to which Salieri refers.  On  another level, the statement brings out how there might be a fundamental difference between the person and the artist.  In the contemporary setting of both composers, artists did not have to be the best of human beings, for the development and aesthetic of arts in order to be praised.  There is a fierce distinction between person and artist, and the latter was the domain where more praise was heaped upon than the former.  In Salieri's understanding, the "furnace of art" refers to the demands to continually produce art at a high quality.  The character of the individual and thir humanity was secondary to the ability to produce art of a high caliber, and in this furnace, individual quality was secondary.

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