Love is More than an Illusion

by chrislansigan

An entertaining and enthusiastic romantic novel by Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion represents historical figures of love, hatred, and friendship between adequately emotional characters, male and female. The elegant plot follows these characters aggressively, as the narrator peers into their minds and reveals all their true meanings. The general focus is directed towards Patrick Lewis, who is mentally lost in a new land by labour and love. Ondaatje uses an excessive amount of serene and peaceful illusions through his poetry, from the section titles to the introduction and conclusion paragraphs in each chapter.

As an initial grasping romantic piece would, the introduction draws in explicit realism and visualization to what Patrick is experiencing as he matures from a young boy to a young man. That being said, the story utterly subjugates itself into depicting a sense of love. Love that is, indefinitely, subjected towards the character of Clara Dickens. Ondaatje, in the section “The Searcher”, uses her to depict the perfect, beautiful woman that will dazzle and catch the eye of any man within sight. He describes her as a typical woman would seem to look, but adds more persuasive illusion to make her ultimately desirable. Such simplistic description puts forth the scene of darkness during the serious, resentful times.

Ondaatje tended to focus on the introduction of characters relevant to the story throughout the novel separately. Certain characters, such as Patrick Lewis and Nicholas Temelcoff, are introduced during their younger years before the main plot, which gives us as the readers a sense of what they had experienced and how that experience affected the main storyline. This initiates a better understanding that shows how these certain characters were connected to the others introduced already or in the future.

Certain illusion can be described through imagination and dreams, as Caravaggio went through. Conducting a nightmare, his past is revealed through the brutal memories of being in prison, and the dream is all musty and dark, bringing forth the concept of darkness over light. The contrast to this is when Patrick, at the end of the book, says “lights”. That word is used interestingly at the end of the novel to depict how Patrick had come up with the conclusion at the end that light was the answer to destroy the darkness that haunted him and others.

Ondaatje’s use of preliminary illusion explains that a true love story isn’t always about the pictures drawn in our heads by adorable phrases. To be one with love, one must fully embrace the historical roots of the primary focus, in which case is certain women. For the many of you that enjoy a love story that goes beyond the boundaries of typical lust and vengeance, this novel is an asset to the knowledge of romance. Ondaatje is the one poetic writer that can really strain much emphasis on poetic writing, for his works create no less than artistic poetry through a novel, and a love story.

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One Comment to “Love is More than an Illusion”

  1. Love the summation of Patrick with the use of alliteration ‘who is mentally lost in a new land by labour and love’. Very Nice.

    Your mention of Patrick’s ‘lights’ as being a commentary on overcoming past darkness is elegant. (I had only read it as directions to Hana to turn the car head-lights on)

    Stimulating read with many considered points.

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