Death in Venice


Thomas Mann

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The Gondolier Character Analysis

A mysterious character who transports Aschenbach to his hotel but refuses any monetary payment, saying simply, “You will pay.” He is reminiscent of the Greek mythological character Charon, who ferried souls across the river Styx into the underworld. The strange gondolier heightens the sense of Venice as an otherworldly, partly dreamlike place.

The Gondolier Quotes in Death in Venice

The Death in Venice quotes below are all either spoken by The Gondolier or refer to The Gondolier. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Art and the Artist Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Death in Venice published in 1995.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Who could avoid experiencing a fleeting shudder, a secret timidity and anxiety upon boarding a Venetian gondola for the first time or after a long absence? The strange conveyance, handed down without any change from ages of yore, and so peculiarly black—the only other thing that black is a coffin—recalls hushed criminal adventures in the night, accompanied only by the quiet splashing of water; even more, it recalls death itself, the bier and the dismal funeral and the final taciturn passage. And have you observed that the seat in such a boat, that armchair painted black like a coffin and upholstered in a dull black, is the softest, most luxurious and enervating seat in the world? Aschenbach noticed this when he sat down at the gondolier’s feet opposite his luggage, which was arranged neatly at the prow.

Related Characters: Gustav von Aschenbach, The Gondolier
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

“What do you charge for the ride?”
And, looking past him, the gondolier answered:
“You will pay.”

Related Characters: Gustav von Aschenbach (speaker), The Gondolier (speaker)
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
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Death in Venice PDF

The Gondolier Character Timeline in Death in Venice

The timeline below shows where the character The Gondolier appears in Death in Venice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Repression, the Mind, and the Self Theme Icon
Youth, Age, and Time Theme Icon
...not to the vaporetto stop from where he wanted to go to his hotel. His gondolier informed him that he could not take the vaporetto with luggage and so the gondola... (full context)