Art for Heart’s Sake” by R. Goldberg
- Pages: 5
- Word count: 1213
- Category: Art
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The author of the text “Art for Heart’s Sake”-Ruben Lucius Goldberg-was an engineer, inventor, cartoonist and sculpture. His cartoons were very popular and highly appreciated by the public. His best comics were exhibited at the Purdue University, and he was even awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his political cartooning. Furthermore, an award of the National Cartoon Society was named in his honour.
“Art for Heart’s Sake” can be classified as a veritable artistic satire. The main character-a grumpy old man, was always annoyed and bored. Although he was in a rather good shape, his doctor thought he had to be kept from making useless purchases in order to avoid heart problems. The old man accepted doctor’s proposition to take up art just for fun, and Doctor Caswell arranged for an art student to come once a week and teach Mr. Ellsworth to paint. The patient’s works were bad from the very beginning, but he became more interested in paintings and galleries. One of his most awful works-“Trees Dressed in White”-was accepted for the exhibition at the Lothrop Gallery.
The student was ashamed for that “anomaly” of a painting, that was why he was the most shocked when Collis P. Ellsworth was awarded the Lathrop Prize of $1,000. While the doctor, amazed by the news, tried to mumble how important art was in one’s life, the old man admitted he had bought the Gallery, and proved that art was nothing.
The text presents narration intercepted with dialogue in order to render some diversity and to make the story seem taken from the everyday life. As far as the general style is concerned, the author used a great amount of colloquial words, like: nope, bosh, jerkwater, rot, poppycock, kinda, gob etc. All these terms were to emphasize the analogy between the old man and a rebellious teenager. The reader can identify the author’s professional approach towards the subject, manifested using terms related to painting: crayons, water-colors, tubes of oils, canvas,. The terms were carefully selected in order to avoid difficulties in understanding the text.
The text follows its coherence, preserving a certain connection between the sentences. As a result, the information flows smoothly, contributing essentially to the understanding of the plot.
The narrator used the third-person point of view. He employed concrete names in order to make the story more truthful. R. Goldberg used a straight line narrative, arranging the events in a chronological order, with some logical interception of memories concerning the old man’s past.
From the point of view of the persons involved into the action, the readers can distinguish four characters: Collis P. Ellsworth, Koppel, Doctor Caswell and Frank Swain. The direct characterisation, used rationally, was meant to make the personages look more vivid. However, the basic way of characterizing the 4 persons involved in the story remains to be the indirect characterization, employed with the aim of awakening the reader’s imagination and critical thinking, oriented skillfully by the author.
An ironical atmosphere was kept throughout the text, having the role of depicting the old man’s mocking attitude. The effect was produced by the help of expressions like a drawing…that had the slight resemblance to the vase; old pineapple juice; graceful lines of the andirons; god-awful smudge; a loud, raucous splash on the wall; anomaly etc.
The protagonist of the story- Collis P. Ellsworth was introduced from the very beginning as an old man of a difficult temperament. His numerous interjections and negations had to emphasize his resemblance to a spoiled child. Further on, the same effect was achieved by a direct comparison: colored the open spaces blue like a child playing with a picture book. The narrator referred to him as to an old man in a pretty good shape, who had suffered a heart attack because of some failed business. He seemed to be interested more about his affairs than about his health. Annoyed by a constant baby-sitting from the part of his male-nurse and his doctor, Ellsworth played a trick on them, playing with their patience and proving that he could solve anything with money. In this context, the epithet “elfishly” was used to emphasize the fact that he was so very resourceful and sly, manipulating the people around him. It was perhaps a sort of revenge towards the doctor, whose idea turned to shock him with a boomerang effect. The old man proved to poses a strong sense of humour, managing to show that he was in condition to make business and that nobody could influence him.
There seemed to be an external conflict between the old man and the rest of the world. Old Ellsworth didn’t like to be told what to do and he preferred, instead, to influence the others. Thus, his childish caprices displayed to his mail nurse, to the doctor and to the student were nothing but a response to their suggestions and an efficient way to contradict and annoy them all.
The male nurse-Koppel-didn’t appear much in the story. This could be explained by the fact that there was a relationship of mutual hate between the servant and his master. First of all, Koppel used the personal pronoun he when referring to Mr. Ellsworth- a rather strange way of speaking about one’s employer. As for the protagonist, he called the servant old pineapple juice, demonstrating thus a mocking attitude.
The doctor displayed an apparent sincere feeling of care and concern towards his patient. The author used to point out the character’s professional calm in difficult situations, underlining thus his professionalism. The doctor was a strong believer of the efficiency of his own treatment, based on art.
The youngest of all characters-Frank Swain-is described as being patient and makes polite suggestions to the old man, trying to show him some respect. His attitude changes towards the end of the text, when he became ashamed of his pupil’s “masterpiece”. A reader might consider him responsible and well-bread.
Old Ellsworth cannot be blamed for acting the way he did. He was probably conscious of the fact that all the 3 persons who acted as if they cared about his state had actually a personal interest-they all needed him alive as a master, a patient and a pupil.
Through the text “Art for Heart’s Sake”, R. Goldberg touched upon a general theme-art. The specific aspect of art presented in the text-painting-was introduced by one of the characters (Doctor Caswell) as a healing supplement for avoiding a potential heart attack. This was also suggested by the title, which is an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s concept “Art for Art’s Sake”. By selecting the title, the author introduced the reader into the general theme and suggested a medical approach towards the subject. An ironical attitude can be felt in this case too, when making the connection between the theme and the idea: the doctor’s initial revolutionary idea of using art for heart’s sake ended up quite otherwise, proving the minor role of art in a materialistic society.
The author’s intention was to suggest that noble purposes have to be oriented to those who need them and who could appreciate them, as only one who really values art can produce art and.