Literary Essay Sample on Elena Ferrante's "Troubling Love"

Published: 2022-06-14
Literary Essay Sample on Elena Ferrante's "Troubling Love"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Relationship
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1270 words
11 min read

In the novel, "Troubling Love" Elena Ferrante narrates a mother-daughter bond through the daughter, Delia, the point of view as the narrator. Delia has maintained a complicated relationship with her mother, Amalia, during her life and even after her death. Some things Amalia does makes her daughter Delia hate her personality but, in some instances, Delia finds that she is essentially similar to her mother. The love that binds Delia with her mother Amalia is troubled with self-denial and complication in her sense of identity. During her mother's times she fought against their resemblance, she could identify herself with what her Amalia was not, but, now that her mother is dead, Delia does not know what is turned into anymore. Throughout this memoir, the protagonist struggles with self-identity now that her mother is no longer around. This paper will discuss the daughter-mother interlink to show how Delia understands herself through reflecting on her mother's life to show that she was who Amalia was and was not.Initially, Delia is able to identify herself as that which her mother is not. When she juxtaposes her life against her mother's, Delia states: "My mother had been buried by rude undertakers at the bottom of a smelly underground of candles and rotten flowers. I had kidney pain and cramps in my stomach" (147) showing the guilty that surrounded the kind of life Amalia led and Delia despised this type of life. She was quick to point that her life was not the same as that of her mother. Delia demonstrated the shamelessness of her mother "a woman of the world who bends over without having to place two fingers at the centre of her neckline, crosses her legs without worrying about her skirt, laughs coarsely, covers herself with costly objects, her whole body brimming with indiscriminate sexual offerings, ready to joust face to face with men in the area of the obscene." (17) a life she was not. In her early days, she felt abandonment from the path she led with the type of life Amalia led when she says: "anxiety becomes so uncontrollable that it overflows in tremors of the body..." (29) and she sees this as "an antidote efficacy" (32) due to the contrast of their lives.

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When Amalia dies Delia finds she does not know what she is anymore. Amalia dies before the start of the narration but pervades the entire text through her daughter's compulsive memoir. Delia makes an abstract metaphor to describe the absences of her mother when she says: "I was hit by a stream of obscenities in dialect, a soft river of sound that involved me, my sisters, my mother in a concoction of semen, saliva, feces, urine, in every possible orifice" (19). Meaning that despite her mother leading an unpleasant life her absence was giving her a deliberately repulsive perception of life. The emptiness of not having her mother around anymore made her not sure of her identity when she says: "....I couldn't nor did I want to search outside myself...." (137) this uncertainty was to show that she was afraid to hold on without her mother anymore. When she finds fine lingerie in her mother's apartment she loses her self-identity and tries to fit in them and she realizes her life was not going to be the same anymore without Amalia as her reflection "That playfulness now serves to tell her that a huge part of her baby self-has become adult, has been accepted, and can coexist with the other aspects of a mature woman." (137).

Eventually, Delia comes to find that she is both her mom and not her mom. She is her mom when she concludes the narration saying "Amalia had been. I was Amalia." (137) to show that she had resumed her mother's life after her death and they were identical even when she was alive and felt like they were not alike. Like her mother, Delia was not apologetic to her father for selling nude paintings of her mother and she asks herself questions about him: "How could he place it in lewd poses when for an immodest smile or look he became a wild beast, without pity? Why did he abandon it on the streets and in the houses of strangers...when he was so jealous of the original? I looked at Amalia bent over her sewing machine until late at night. I thought that, as she worked like that, silent and preoccupied, she, too, asked herself those questions." (113) their instincts were similar. Delia realized is her mom when her fears are "to eliminate every root I had in her, even the deepest." (64) Because the things she presumed as she tried to uncover the cause of her mother's death made her become Amalia.

On the other hand, Delia finds that she is her mom's opposite. Delia was more conserved and hated the way her mother had exposed her body to abusive men "possessed by a mania to protect my mother from any contact with men, as I had seen my father do in the same situation....It was wasted effort. Her hips spread across the aisle toward the hips of men on the other side of her; her legs, her stomach swelled toward the knee or shoulder of whoever was sitting in front of her." (53) and her death was helping her cut adrift from Amalia. Delia could not understand why Amalia had chosen such a tragic end of her life and realizes the search has ended: "I had asked myself why my mother had decided to die in that place. I would never know. I was the only possible source of the story: I couldn't nor did I want to search myself." (137) to show the unlikeness of their thinking though she narrated the happening like she was Amalia yet, she thought differently from her. In desperation, to mode, her mother like herself did not yield fruits and ended her frustrated when their differences showed that "Anything in her that had not been conceded to me I wanted to eliminate from her body. Thus nothing more would be lost or dispersed far from me...." (64).

The last image of Delia in the book really proves this dual identity. She looks at her identity card and pictures become interchangeable. Their swap of identity was coincidental because Amalia died on the day of Delia's birthday "My mother drowned on the night of May 23rd," and this is no coincidence that it's the beginning of Delia to soul finds her self-identity. Her rebirth at this point in life made her replace her mother in her life to presume both their identities. She says "what I wanted from you Mother, was this: that in giving me life, you still remain alive" (137). This quote showed she regretted her mother's life as much as it was the start of her own liberations. Although, Delia had left her native home a long time ago the use of paradoxical identity between her and her mother allowed her to alternatively transform her new life with the use of their identical identity. The things she initially hated about her mother she owns them up and describes her new identity as "little girl with wrinkles" (16).

In conclusion, Ferrante's demonstration of troubling love between mother-daughter bond shows a mixed reaction from the young girl, Delia as she grows up despising her mother's traits but eventually realizes after Amalia's death that she is a reflection of her mother.

Works cited

Ferrante, Elena. L'amore molesto. Rome: Edizioni E/O, 1992. Print. Translated as Troubling Love, Trans. Ann Goldstein. New York: Europa, 2006. Print.

Ferrante, Elena. Troubling Love. Translated by Ann Goldstein, Europa Editions, 2016

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