Venice is a dreamscape in which Aschenbach goes to die. The city symbolizes death, beauty, and decay. The following quote captures the mixture of dream ("fairytale"), decay ("art used to blossom . . . "), and death ("putrid atmosphere") of this city. Aschenbach sees Venice as, like death itself,
alluring and dubiously entrancing—this city, part fairy tale, part tourist trap, in the putrid atmosphere of which art used to blossom luxuriously and which had inspired musicians with lulling melodies . . .
Venice transports Aschenbach into a dream world in which he can engage in increasingly obsessive and idealized fantasies about a beautiful young boy he doesn't know—it is, as many critics have noted, a means for Aschenbach to escape from his prosaic, controlled home and into the Dionysian—the world of decadence and desire.
Venice is also Aschenbach's...
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