Analysis of Motif of Mask

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Analysisof Motif of Mask

ArthurSchnitzler wrote DreamStory or Traumnollein 1926. The author exposes hypocrisies of the bourgeoisie culture byway of fantasies, culture, and passion in a marriage, which is maskedas happy. The writer also points out the sexual fantasy, obsession,and death. In 1999, the book was adapted for a film EyesWide Shut.

BriefDescription of the Book

Thenarrative is set in the early twentieth century Vienna. Fridolin, adoctor, is a character in the story and he is seen as a protagonist.He lives with his wife Albertina and their daughter. A prostitutenamed Mizzi is denied her sexual advances towards Fridolin. His wifeconfesses to having had a sexual fantasy about a young Danishmilitary officer. Nachtigall, an old friend of Fridolin, informs himthat he (Nachtigall) will be playing piano at a secret sex orgy thatnight (Chion, 11). Fridolin attends the sex orgy event while clad ina mask.

Theauthor uses masks in his book to show how people are hiding from thetruth. Once a person is behind the mask, she/he can do anythingprovided they are not known. People can attend strippers’ partieswithout fear of being noticed. The event takes place at nightFridolin procures a mask and costumes and follows his friend to thesex orgy. He is surprised to find several other men in the sameoutfits and naked women also in masks and costumes dancing.

Thewomen notice the presence of a stranger in the event and require himto leave, and another woman sacrifices herself and Fridolin areallowed to leave. Albertina is nursing her obsession dream she hadwith Danish, and she informs her husband about the dream, and thespouse is annoyed and thinks that Albertina intends to betray him.Fridolin is determined to pursue Marianne who is not interested inhim, and he then searches for Mizzi to no avail (Schnitzler, 27). Helearns about a poisoning of a woman who he suspects as the woman whohad sacrificed herself for him. He is confronted by his wife aboutthe affairs of the previous day, and she had set the mask used lastnight on the pillow.

Usesof mask

Itis revealed that one must be aware of a password to the house andadmission watchword to get to the party. Once in the room, he noticesthere sixteen to twenty people who were dressed as monks, and theywore masks, one of the monks brushed with him, he realized that themonk was searching him, trying to know who he was because of theawkwardness in his way of presentation. He was the only person whohad appeared in a hut. The repercussion of being in the café as astranger includes being whipped as a woman describes it. A woman,engaged to a prince and almost married him, committed suicide as aresult, her involvement in the affairs of the café.

Inthe party, Fridolin would have liked to stay or take a girl with himdespite the immediate consequence a lady looks at him with alluringeyes. An argument eludes at the end of the passage. Fridolin slipsthe cassock and ties the white cord unwillingly, and he is handed ablack, broad-brimmed hat which he puts on with a lot of resistance.

Younggirls are forced into sex with old men, Gibiser is abusive to thewomen, he calls one of them “a depraved creature” Fridolin isconfused by the contradictions of Gibiser who calls the lady insaneand later one calls her evil creature. Fridolin learns that it willbe impossible for him to discern the identity of any woman from thewomen he encountered. He is convinced that the enigma of their largeeyes peering at him beneath the black masks would forever remainunsolved (Chion, 21). The family of Fridolin talks about theirencounters, her wife is relieved to be together with him again and inthe sheltered intimacy and being familiar with each other. The nightafter the ball unites the family in the bliss of love in a way thecouple has experienced before.

Wenotice that Fridolin decides to take an act of revenge on Albertineand separate, he packs the monk habit and the hat which he has toreturn for he had hired them from custom hire. He forgets to take themask with him, and the cover later serves as a sign of thesensitivity to Albertine’s way of dealing with Fridolin’sattempts at erotic emancipation. In the morning he reads about anattempted suicide of a refined, strikingly attractive lady and thisreminds him of a woman who wanted to risk her life for him. He learnsthat his wife had been incessantly hovering before his eyes as thegirl he has been seeking all along.

Theauthor has set the book in a time of a year when people like to getdressed up and wear masks. The story as described by the author takesplace at the end of winter. The entry password required by the memberof the orgy group is &quotDenmark&quot and it is used to refer toan old seductive erotic situation. The ritual takes place in acircular manner, and the members are entertained, and they engage indances. Half naked women are grouped also grouped about the highpriest in a circular fashion. The masked group, we learn, gathersthreateningly. The architect of the room is also circular the curvesshow the room to be the center of all the happenings. The scene, asseen in the movie, is approximately in the middle of the film and itsappearance there is not an accident.

Theemotional significance is clearly communicated in the book and themovie, the dream in the book is interpreted explicitly in the film.Although the central position and goal in the video are weakened, theemotional significance remains intact and is communicated clearly(Schnitzler, 34).


Theentire world of symbol and motif are demonstrated in the book and thefilm. The film portrays mysteries, dreamlike dimensions throughlighting, coloring, and slow or fast moving camera movement this isfurther demonstrated by including pan shots resolution of images. Themovie creates coherence in a subtle way including the indication ofprotagonist`s plate. The author has achieved the object ofapplication of symbols and motif to show the ills of the world. Eventhe enlighten like doctors people are engaging in immoral behaviors,either willingly or through peer pressure.


Chion,Michel. Kubrick`s cinema odyssey. British Film Inst, 2011.

Schnitzler,Arthur. Dream story. Penguin, 2013.

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