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Free MonkeyNotes Summary-The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone-Notes
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THEMES

Major Themes

‘Art surpassing life’ and ‘The agony and ecstasy of an artist’ are the two significant Themes of the novel. Michelangelo waits for years to get recognition and understanding of his creativity. He works for many rulers and acts according to the whims of different religious heads. He meets both the good and the bad and witnesses their end. He is kept away from the marble and forced to work in other mediums. He experiences prolonged agony during the time he is separated from his favorite stone. He lives on hope and his talent waits to be unleashed.



By the time he gets the opportunity to carve marble statues of his liking, he is too old to execute such monumental works. However, divine energy and a spiritual power, aid him to complete all his tasks successfully. Working on the marble, he feels ecstatic and overcomes all the hurdles of age and ailments. His art makes him superhuman and immortal. Years after his death, he is still remembered for his beautiful pieces of art and considered as one of the greatest sculptors in the world.

MOOD

The Mood of the novel is serious as it traces the life of Michelangelo as an artist; from a teenager to an old man of ninety. The artist experiences both the agony and the ecstasy as he waits for commissions from fanatical rulers and carves on beautiful marble slabs. He is kept away from the object of his desire for long and his work gets interrupted often. And when he gets to carve marble statues, he has to work for long hours and struggle hard to complete his tasks on time. His enemies try to malign him and overwork makes him ill. However, he overcomes disease, hatred and age through his talent and dedication. The novel ends on a note of hope with Michelangelo expressing satisfaction with his work before he breathes his last.

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