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Passion

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Ashinia
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“The” true meaning and effects of The Passion In Jeanette Winterson’s novel The Passion (1987), “passion” as a word and an idea takes on many forms such as religious, romantic, erotic, familial, patriotic, etc. However, the most dominant form of passion in the novel is romantic passion. Romantic passion can be described as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, characterized by love or by the idealizing of love. Winterson reveals that romantic passion is “the” most central passion of the novel through the characters of the novel, Henri and Villanelle. Henri’s patriotic obsession with Napoleon is masked through romantic speech and once unmasked and proven jovial is transformed into romantic passion for the other main protagonist, Villanelle. Contrary to Henri’s advances of romance, Villanelle focuses her romantic emotions towards gambling and the Queen of Spades. Villanelle’s literal addiction to gambling and metaphorical addiction to gambling her heart demonstrates Winterson’s non-linear and maze like writing style. Love and romance is a gamble within itself. The uncertainty and inconclusive nature of the feeling is entwined with the characters journeys and hence allows the reader to experience the uncertainty of love and the characters perspectives of love. “Passion” is deemed as romantic passion in the novel The Passion and although represented in unconventional means it is used as a façade for Henri’s patriotism, for Villanelles addiction to gambling and is also used literally through Villanelle’ romance for the Queen of Spades and illustrated literally as the roller-coaster ride that romance takes lovers on through Jeanette Winterson’s ambiguous writing style. Through Henri, Winterson shows how romantic passion strongly influences the characters thoughts and actions, and the style of the novel. Henri discovers his romantic passion for Napoleon after abandoning his religious passion for God. Henri was 20 years-old when he lost his passion for God: “I have shouted to God and the Virgin, but they have not shouted back and I’m not interested in the still small voice.”(Winterson, 9) Having abandoned his passion for God, Henri is vulnerable to any form of passion that presents itself to him. Winterson uses the guise of romance to conceal Henri’s redirection of passion and interest in Napoleon. God was a significant point of interest and commitment in Henri’s life. In order to fill the void that was his religion, Henri submerges himself fully into his passion for Napoleon and joins the French army. His drastic actions and intense emotion after hearing napoleon speak are expressed in the first chapter of The Passion, “He was great. Greatness like his is hard to be sensible about.” (Winterson, 32) Henri’s obsession with his newfound passion is similar to that of mans obsession with a woman that he loves. Winterson uses romantic language to illustrate this obsession representing an unconventional realm of romance, not literally for Napoleon as a man, but for the patriotism towards Napoleon. Henri has a love for the idea of having passion that has filled the void of his religious passion. Henri reminisces about his love for Napoleon in the last chapter proclaiming that “I invented Bonaparte as much as he invented himself” (Winterson, 169) Henri did not invent Napoleon as a lover but rather as a new point of interest where Henri could transfer his passion and romance/love for having a passion again.
Winterson reveals how finicky love and romance can be when exposing how fast Henri’s patriotism transforms into true romance not at the idea of Villanelle but for Villanelle herself. The speed at which Henri’s passion for Napoleon dissipates and his new romance blossoms exemplifies Winterson’s abstract writing style reflecting the nonlinear and suspenseful feelings that are experienced through romance for another person. Henri expresses how fast feelings can change and soon regret sinks in when he says, “Fools stay for love. I am a fool. I stayed in the army for eight years because I loved someone.” (Winterson, 163) Henri’s disappointment in wasting eight years in the army for the infatuation with an idea of a person, Napoleon, echoes a loss of passion. Henri has lost his passion yet again, first it was god and religion, which transformed into patriotism and has now moved on to true romance rather than objects and beliefs guised by a veil of romantic language. Winterson re-introduces passion in Henri’s life and also the novel by introducing Villanelle in Henri’s province: “I did think of that and fell in love with her” (Winterson, 93). In other words, Winterson replaces Henri’s romantic affection for Napoleon with Villanelle to steer the plot of the novel in a new direction similar to a sail on a ship. Above all this demonstrates that “Man cannot exist without passion” (Winterson, 79) and how important it is in Henri’s survival and the novel’s plot, which continues to emphasize that romantic passion is “the” central passion of the Novel. Also, capturing an “unconventional relationship between soldier and whore.” (Cox, 130) This illustrates the effects of romantic passion in compelling and breaking down boundaries and principles. Winterson uses Henri’s journey through different vectors of passion to illustrate that romance and passion can cause an individual to abandon their principles and morals seen when Henri abandons god and Napoleon in search for a passion that is more fulfilling, Henri’s romance for Villanelle. Similarly, Winterson’s style of writing breaks down contemporary styles of writing like Shakespeare by its unconventional structure and style. Simultaneously, Winterson combines Villanelle’s flaw of having webbed feet with Napoleon’s tyranny pushing her to turn to other means of satisfaction, gambling and the Queen of Spades. Winterson does not just expose a woman’s vulnerability when dealing with romantic passion but also reverberates this sense of vulnerability in her writing. Winterson alludes to the city as a maze through Villanelles speech saying, “Since Bonaparte captured our city of mazes in 1797, we’ve more less abandoned ourselves to pleasure.”(Winterson, 55) Napoleons tyrannous capture of their city has forced its citizens including Villanelle to search through her maze of a city for passion, romance and satisfaction. What Villanelle found to fill her void, was a path leading her to an addiction to gambling and romance for a woman. Winterson attempts to conceal the realities of romance as an avenue by which “wholeness may be achieved.” (Cox, 122) Contrary to this, romance is a gamble within itself, and Villanelle does not achieve wholeness, rather, she loses her heart to a woman. This is illustrated in the second chapter of the novel when Villanelle enunciates that “when she touched me I knew I was loved and with passion” (Winterson, 101) Furthermore, Winterson strategically placed this romantic affection in the novel not only to demonstrate the diversity of romance in Venice but also to represent the unique and unconventional structure of the novel. This does not favor the contemporary linear sequence but rather a maze, which Katherine Cox pointed out in her essay Maze and Labyrinth:
“The text’s allusions, patterning and intertextually make prominent the readers digressive and perhaps hesitant path through the narrative, whilst the act of reading itself is passionate and analogous with the protagonists’ quests through the fluid, repetitious and indeterminate experience of the city. The amour that leads Henri and Villanelle through their maze is the same desire that captivates the reader, encouraging the reader to play in the jouissance of the text.” (Cox, 130)
The story’s ability to envelop the reader into the romance and passion of the protagonists’ journey means that they also experience the twists and turns of their maze. Although Villanelle’s romantic passion with the Queen of Spades is twisted with a dark and unconventional romance that causes the reader to hesitantly continue reading in hope of finding ecstasy at the end of the characters journey. Ultimately, as Kathrine Cox states, there is encouragement for the reader to follow the characters’ journey throughout the novel.
The romantic journey that Henri and Villanelle experience in the novel The Passion by Jeanette Winterson embodies the main theme of passion in the novel, romance. Albeit in unconventional terms with Henri’s passionate love for have a passion and Villanelle’s passionate love for gambling, the novels romantic language and ideals reflect the romance seen in society today. The writing style that Winterson uses combined with the characters journeys echo what men and women experience day to day in their own romantic journey of ups, downs, the wrong paths, the right paths and sometimes gambling everything they have, their hearts, to find the ultimate romance. Work Cited
Winterson, Jeanette. The Passion. New York: Grove Press, 1987. Print
Cox, Katherine. Maze and Labyrinth, London: Network of Modern Fiction Studies, 2008. Print.…...

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