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What is the significance of music in 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'?

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Introduction

Sunday, 10 November 2002 Jad Salfiti A2 English Literature What is the significance of music in 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin'? Music is an essential theme within Captain Corelli's Mandolin. It is, of course, a traditional accompaniment to the rituals of courtship and love and it is the means, by which Corelli engages Pelagia's interest and later captures her heart, music charts the development of Corelli and Pelagia's relationship in the novel. Appreciation of music is used as an important indication of character in the story and Corelli's love of music is what endears him to all, lannis even notes Corelli's musical abilities as 'worthy of forgiveness'. The book is pervaded with a sense of helplessness in the face of evil. Hope is found only by clinging to the created: beauty, human love and above all music, rather than God. It's a sad but accurate picture of the way many people deal with the complexities of life. Music serves as a means to recover the spirit from war and the mandolin plays a healing and cleansing role in the novel. Set largely during World War II, Captain Corelli's Mandolin concerns the occupation of a Greek island, Cephallonia, by Italian troops. The writer focuses on an 'insignificant' island beset by the larger problems of a world at war; de Berni�res has mirrored perfectly the connection of the minor details of individual lives with the great sweep of history, the minor with the Meta. ...read more.

Middle

Corelli extends the musical metaphor to his thoughts of Pelagia. "I see her breasts are the backs of mandolins moulded in Napoli...and I see that each buttock is the rounded pear-shaped singing mandolin...I think of Pelagia in terms of chords." Corelli views the chords on his mandolin in terms of Pelagia's facial expressions, her gestures and moods. Corelli compares Pelagia spiritually, psychologically and physically to his Mandolin. When Pelagia flicks water at Corelli, he entertains a dual identity (Antonia and Captain Corelli); however he manages to escape as Captain Corelli. Corelli uses music to parody and satirise the values of the army and indeed fascism. Corelli coins the name La Scala (a prestigious opera house in Milan) to the aqui division he captains. This comes over as a mockery of everything soldierly, Corelli juxtaposes the sublime and the ridiculous here, the army represents everything masculine such as heroism, pride and machismo whereas opera represents everything feminine because it mostly deals with relationships, emotions and the drama that accompany them . La Scala even has rules of engagement, which act further to mock the language of the army and the absurdity of human pride, among these rules cited "all aficionados of Wagner shall be shot peretemptorily", in this musical world Corelli has created, musical composers act as opposing leaders. When Gunter Weber first encounters Corelli he is told "I am the breve, Carlo here is the semibreve, he is the crochet, he is the quaver, and that lad in the sea is a semi-quaver." ...read more.

Conclusion

The mandolin is of great significance, however because it symbolises the individualistic nature of Corelli's personality; Corelli prefers the mandolin to the violin because the violin is part of an orchestra, and is therefore viewed as just another violin just like fascism and Nazism views people, as statistics and numbers. The mandolin represents the characters defiance of fascism's conformity. Corelli is protective of his mandolin "people don't realise how many of the great masters wrote for the mandolin. Not just Vivaldi and Hummel, but even Beethoven." Corelli finds offensive how the Mandolin is under-rated and overlooked; he takes this personally, as though the mandolin is truly an extension of him. The Mandolin grants Corelli Godlike creation powers, God created landscapes in the creation story, whereas Corelli constructs sound-scapes with his music. Corelli almost communes God as a musician and acts as a medium to celebrate the female spirit associated with fertility and life to counterbalance the male spirit epitomizing death and destruction. Corelli accredits Pelagia a heroic status. His composition Pelagia's March is a celebration of this spirit; and represents the merging of Greek and Italian culture. The breakdown of nationality represents the desire for hybridity and fusion, both in direct conflict with Fascism. Music carries great significance with 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' it takes on many levels such as it's role as a healing medium, it's defiance of fascism and conformity, it's escapism qualities and unifying nature and above all ...read more.

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