My analysis of art for heart’s sake
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. The text presents narration intercepted with dialogue in order to render some diversity and to make the story seem taken from the everyday life. The story is told from the point of view of the author.
From the point of view of presentation the text is a 3rd person narration with dialogues of the characters . As far as the general style is concerned, the author used a great amount of colloquial words, like:nope, bosh, jerkwater, rot, poppycock, kinda, gobetc. 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 characterization of heroes is indirect. Koppel, doctor Caswell, Swain and Ellsworth were described mostly through their behaviour, speech and dialogues. The controlling idea of the story conveyed by Goldberg sounds like this – you can buy the gallery, but you cannot buy the art itself. Value of art will vanish if everyone shows their god-awful smudges as an eternal work of art. The prevailing mood of the text is humorous. The author underlines the old man behaves like a child (he replied Nope on the male nurse suggestion many times. He colored the open spaces blue like a child playing with a picture book.
He proudly displayed the variegated smears of paint on his heavy silk dressing gown. He requested someone to read his envelope because his eyes were tired from painting. It was done specially to archive strong effect). At the end the author used the effect of defeated expectancy. When the old man confessed that he just bought that gallery. We can logically divide the text into the following parts : 1. The Old Ellsworth’s depression In introduction the action centers around Collis P. Ellsworth, an old gentleman whose obsessional idea is buying unnecessary things.
In the chain of events we see that his doctor Caswell suggests him taking up art. 2. The art lessons 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 Ellsworth started to display “an insatiable curiosity” about the galleries, painters and exhibitions. The old man wants to exhibit his horrible picture «Trees Dressed in White” in a famous gallery. 3. The winner Ellsworth was awarded with the First Prize for his painting. then he confesses that he had bought the gallery
We can distinguish the compositional patterns of the text: 1. The beginning of the plot – doctor’s suggestion to take up art. 2. The rising action – Ellsworth’s interest to art, his painting “Trees dressed in White” 3. The climax – the exhibition in Lathrop Gallery and the award for the first place 4. The falling action – Ellsworth’s confession The first character who was introduced to the reader was the male nurse Koppel. He was the helper of doctor Caswell to treat the old man. The author described how hard it was. He used gradation to reveal the male nurse’s despair (He won’t take his pineapple juice.
He doesn’t want me to read to him. He hates the radio. He doesn’t like anything! ). Koppel couldn’t do a thing with the old man. Despite he tried to prevent him from exhibiting the Trees Dressed in White as the old man could become a laughing-stock. To the contrary to anxious and uneasy Koppel calm and gentle Doctor Caswell introduced in front of us. He is a professional and thinks a lot about his patients (He had done some constructive thinking since his last visit. Making proposition to the old man he took his stethoscope ready in case the abruptness of the suggestion proved too mush for the patient’s heart.
In spite of rude and vigorous Ellsworth’s answers like Rot and Bosh Caswell managed to persuade him to take up art with his professional calm). He understood Ellsworth was no ordinary case. Further unintentionally the old man’s diagnosis was described. The author used zeugma for the irony (All his purchases of recent years had to be liquidated at a great sacrifice both to his health and his pocketbook). The doctor preferred not to interfere when Ellsworth decided to exhibit his painting at the gallery.
Doctor Caswell was the only man who managed with a supreme effort to congratulate the old man on the First Prize while Swain and Koppel “uttered a series of inarticulate gurgles”. One mistake the doctor made is he thought it safe to allow Ellsworth to visit museums and galleries. The next personage is Frank Swain. He is 18 years old and a promising student. He has some simile with the doctor. Swain was also patient. The author used such simile (there was a drawing on the table which had a slight resemblance to the vase) to underline the Swain’s reaction (Not bad, sir. It’s a bit lopsided).
Swain is professional too. As his visits grew more frequent he brought a box of water-colors and some tubes of oils. He was no indifferent to the Ellsworth and worried about the picture Trees Dressed in White. He was “forced to sneak” into the Gallery and see the picture his own eyes. At least the most inconsistent personage is Ellsworth. As it was mentioned before he behaved like a child. The author used many slang words (rot, bosh, by gum, poppycock) to display that the old man’s attitude to the Koppel, Swain and Doctor, to emphasize such trait of the character as foolishness, confidence, independence.
Originally the old man was not sure to take up art. He looked appraisingly at Swain and drew the scrawls expecting the Swain’s critic (the wrinkles deepened at the corners of the old man’s eyes as he asked elfishly what he thought of it). In some time he asked Swain to come three times a week. It tells about his progress in painting. The author used personification (I want to ask you something before old pineapple juice comes back). It reveals the old man’s attitude to the male nurse.
Ellsworth displayed his insatiable curiosity about the galleries but in fact being a person who couldn’t help from buying anything he formed an artful plan in his brain. Ellsworth executed the painting. The author used epithets (a god-awful smudge; a loud, raucous splash on the wall) and simile (which resembled a gob of salad dressing thrown violently up against the side of a house) The author used inversion (upon this distinguished group Ellsworth was going to foist his painting) to emphasize the importance of this exhibition, its scale and prestigious.
Ellsworth organized everything before. This fact that Koppel, Swain and the doctor were in the room when the envelope was brought was not a chance. He anticipated this result (He was unusually cheerful during the exhibition). He proved them that art is nothing and everything can be bought for money. All treatment and the good work, that the doctor has accomplished, were spoilt. Ellsworth managed to wind everybody round his finger.
Speaking about the meaning of the title, art’s aim is to eradicate human shortcomings, but in this particular case its effect was quite contradictory. At the end of the story the protagonist says that art is nothing, that he bought the Lathrop Gallery, what surely doesn’t coincide with the reader’s expectations. The problems raised in the story “Art for Heart’s Sake” are urgent nowadays – money can buy everything, art is eternal, but everybody values it from one’s own point of view, at the same time not everyone is allowed to realize what real art is.