Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

[1] Venice which is an area inhabited

1 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).

2 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873). pp., 381

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3 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).

4 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873). p. 380

5 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 380-381

6 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 380-381

7 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).p. 382

8 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 382

9 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 379

10 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 379

11 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice,
1st edn (Cambridge, Mass.: London, 2003), pp. 45-58.

12 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 374

13 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 376

14 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873), pp. 376-377

15 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 385

16 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 385-386

17 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 367

18 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 367-368

19 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 368-369

20 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 369

21 D. BARNES, “Historicizing The Stones:
Ruskin’s The Stones Of Venice And Italian Nationalism”, Comparative
Literature, 62.3 (2010), 246-261
.

22 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 299

23 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 300

24 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 301

25 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London,: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1873).pp. 301

26 John Ruskin, The Stones Of Venice
(London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925), pp. 56-89.

27 Jenny Diski, Skating To Antarctica
(Granta Books, 1998), pp. 5

28 Jenny Diski, Skating To Antarctica
(Granta Books, 1998), pp. 1-7

29 Jenny Diski, Skating To Antarctica
(Granta Books, 1998), pp. 24-89.

Although both books are termed as travel memoirs, the book Skating to
Antarctica is not wholly a travel memoir. More so, Antarctica is a desolate
place unlike Venice which is an area inhabited by human life. The high
temperatures of Antarctica might not be able to sustain human existence. Thus,
Ruskin might have been better positioned to give a clear description of Venice
as opposed to Jenni Diski. Ruskin creates a connection between Venice and
different biblical occurrences. The view or rather the perspective of a place
is dependent on the individual perceiving the place. Ruskin thought that Venice
was falling and he termed the renaissance art as being a depiction of the
self-centred nature of the artists who came up with art. He supported the
gothic depiction of Venice

Conclusion

Throughout the book, there is sense
of femininity. Ruskin talks of Venice as a “she” and compares her to
different biblical occurrences including the fall of Gomorrah. In the last
chapter, he attributes the renaissance nature of Venice which depicts the fall
of the region to the curse of sexuality or rather the gender curse. Acts that
occur between different genders including infidelity are also described in the
book. On the other hand, Skating to Antarctica rarely uses gender to describe
or explain a place. However, the use of gender can be inferred. This is in
contrast to the Stones of Venice whereby the use of gender is quite express and
direct and thus, it is easy to locate the different ways in which Ruskin uses
gender as a tool of description.

Ruskin widely employs the use of
gender to describe the architectural structures of Venice. Every structure is
represented by a female or a male image. The vices and virtues portrayed
through the different structures are also personalized and they take up the shape
of either a female or a male sculpture. Ruskin, when describing his experience
in Venice, also describes the different months of the year as perceived by the
citizens of the country. Some months are represented by a mowing season while
others are represented by harvests.

Comparison between
the Stones of Venice and Skating to Antarctica

London is a place of bitterness
while Antarctica is a place of solitude. When Jenni travels to Antarctica, she
is filled with a lot of anger towards her mother but after her voyage, there is
a shift from anger to peace. She uses the actions of her mother to explain her
animosity towards her mother and her childhood in general. The use of gender in
the book is quite limited. The scenery of Antarctica is explained through the
use of normal words like beautiful and a pearl of desolation.

 Doing this allows her to make a distinction
between Antarctica and London which means that she is able to describe the two
places based on her experience. While Antarctica is lonely but peaceful, her home
was characterized by abandonment. More so, she uses gender to portray the
irresponsible nature of her parents who lived in London. When her mother became
psychotic, the father decides to drop her off at an orphanage. Normally, one
would expect that her father’s fatherly instincts would cause him to want to
protect her from the harsh nature of society but this is not the case as her
father drops her off and leaves her under the care of other individuals.

The novel narrates two occurrences.
The first narration talks of her disturbed childhood centered in London while
the second narration talks of her travels to Antarctica29.
There is a clear shift and difference between London and Antarctica. Her view
of Antarctica is similar to her view of the orphanage that she was confined in
while London holds bad memories for her. More so, she uses both parents to
describe her experience in her family home. After her mother goes mad, the
father leaves her in an orphanage. The better part of the book centres on her
relationship with her mother. The search for an escape motivates her to take a
trip to Antarctica. Gender, in this case, is used to describe the solitude that
dominated her family home.

The mere fact that she is a female
who undertakes a journey to a region mostly visited by men describes the place as
being harsh. It is a common fact that men have a higher chance of surviving in
harsh conditions as opposed to their female counterparts. Careers that require
survival skills are less likely to be dominated by the female gender. Thus,
talking of her sexuality and her conviction to travel to Antarctica which had
not been occupied depicts the harsh conditions of the areas as is depicted when
she writes ‘Still,
the thought was there. Antarctica. And along with it a desire as commanding as
any sexual compulsion that Antarctica was what I wanted, and that therefore I
had to have it28’.

The book, Skating to Antarctica,
outlines the experience of Jenny Diski while journeying through the area. She
wanted a place that would allow her isolation and solitude. Her choice of
Antarctica was based on the uninhabited character of the continent as she
explains in page five of the book27.  Antarctica is uninhabited due to the
extremely cold climate of the region. Human beings rarely visit the place and
only male explorers had the courage to visit Antarctica and their visits would
more often than not result in a glorious death that would be termed as a
service to the countries that they belonged to.

The Use of Gender in Skating to
Antarctica

 

 Different authors have argued that Ruskin’s
view of Venice was as a result of his failing relationships and the rejections
that he received from women. Throughout the book, it is quite clear that his
view of the female gender is quite corrupt. Most vices in the book are
explained through the use of female characters which might have resulted from
his animosity towards women. Ruskin also claims that Venice has changed. In his
first visit, Venice was a beautiful city that was filled with hope but in the
last chapter, he describes Venice as a city of desolation which makes the
reader curious on the factors that might have caused the change of his opinion
concerning Venice26.

While the female represents the vices and virtues, the
male figure represents the different months that make up a year. The
personification of each month is characterized by different roles21.
When talking of January, Ruskin describes the month as ‘carrying home a noble
tree on his shoulders…22’.
In this sense, January is described as a he who is a worker. Ruskin describes
February as ‘ sitting in a carved chair, warming his bare feet at a blazing
fire23’,
March is the warrior, April is described as ‘ carrying a sheep upon his
shoulders24’,
May ‘ is seated, while two young maidens crown him with flowers25’and
June represents reaping while July represents mowing among others. In short,
gender is widely used in the description of the months which indicates that
Ruskin’s interpretation of the month through the use of gender allowed him to
expose the reader to the manner in which the months were viewed. The use of the
pronouns he and she indicates the use of gender in describing Venice or rather
the perspective of different months in Venice.

 

Ruskin portrays falsehood as ‘an old woman leaning on
a crutch…16’.
When making a comparison between Spenser’s view and Giotto’s view, Ruskin gives
the virtue of infidelity a female pronoun as he refers to infidelity as a she
and justifies the existence of infidelity in the heart of man. Faith, as
portrayed in the ducal palace chapter, is also referred to as a she. Ruskin
gives an image of a woman holding her breast on one hand and the cross on the
other. When talking about the seventh capital, Ruskin brings in aspects like
liberality which is explained as ‘a male figure, with his lap full of money,
which he pours out of his hand17’.
Constancy is described as ‘an armed man with a sword in his hand…18’.Patience
is ‘a female figure, very expressive and lovely, in a hood with her right hand
on her breast, the left extended…19’.
Despair is also portrayed as ‘a female figure thrusting a dagger into her
throat, and tearing her long hair…20’.

The description of the Ducal Palace includes an
analysis of the vice of gluttony described as ‘a woman in a turban, with a
jewelled cup in her right hand9’. Pride,
in the Stones of Venice, is represented as ‘a knight, with a heavy and stupid
face, holding a sword with three edges: his armour covered with ornaments in
the form of roses…10’.
The use of knight and the pronoun he is an indication of the use of gender to
describe the structures that Ruskin came across in Venice. Virtues like
humility, justice, and charity are given female attributes. Charity is
characterized as ‘a woman with her lap full of loaves11’.
Humility is a woman with ‘a veil upon her head carrying a lamp in her lap12’.
Luxury is ‘a woman with a jewelled chain across her forehead, smiling as she
looks into her mirror …13’.Prudence,
on the other hand, is given male attributes when Ruskin describes prudence as ‘a
man with a book and a pair of compasses, wearing the noble cap, hanging down
towards the shoulder14 ‘.
In chapter VIII, when describing the Ducal Palace, Ruskin also describes other
characters like cheerfulness which is ‘a woman with log flowing hair, crowned
with roses…15’.

From the onset of the book, reference is made to
Venice as a “she”. The use of the pronoun she might allude to the
ability to reproduce and grow a role that is attached to females.  When completing the book, the Stones of
Venice, Ruskin argues that the fall of Venice has resulted from the curse that
is associated with sexuality. He compares Venice to the Biblical Gomorrah.
According to him, the fall of Venice results from the curse of gender
associated with idleness and pride. It was inevitable that Venice would fall
like Gomorrah.  When narrating about the
second period, Ruskin brings in the whole notion of pride of life which he
categorizes as a female trait ‘as such, it is a feminine vice, directly opposed
to holiness….4’.
In the same page, when talking about anger, he gives a representation of an
angry woman who decides to tear her clothes and as a result her breasts are
made visible to every eye as is depicted in page 380 when he talks of ‘a woman
tearing her dress upon at her breast5’.
He further describes Ducal Palace by exposing the reader to Avarice who is ‘an
old woman with a veil over her forehead, and a bag of money in each hand6’.
Vanity is also a she as is depicted through the words ‘ she is smiling
complacently as she looks into a mirror in her lap7’.
Envy is given feminine traits. Ruskin writes that ‘she is pointing malignantly
with her finger…8’.

Ruskin not only wrote of the structures in Venice but
he also analyzed the structures and related them to human experience as is
portrayed in his description of Avarice where he claims that her features have
been wasted by famine and anxiety ‘ ….strained as by anxiety, and wasted by
famine2’.
He divides the architecture of Venice into the Renaissance Architecture and the
Gothic Architecture3.
According to him, the Gothic Architecture was the most preferable as it
indicated a reverence for God unlike the Renaissance  Architects who failed to revere God and their
art depicted their glory as opposed to portraying the glory of God or rather
they created art for their own benefit. Ruskin feminizes Venice.

The Use of Gender in Stones of
Venice

The desolation, solitude and the peace in the
orphanage resembled that in Antarctica and thus, she was compelled to take a
trip to the place regardless of the fact that she was not one to travel.
Jenni’s trip is motivated by her daughter’s inquiries on her grandmother who
was Jenni’s mother. The book talks about her experience in Antarctica while
exposing the reader to her childhood and the ways in which her childhood trauma
affected her.

Skating to Antarctica, on the other hand, exposes the
reader to the emotional battles that the author experienced through her
childhood which was characterized by absentee parents and suicide attempts
among others and her trip to Antarctica which would allow her to deal with her
childhood trauma. Antarctica reminded her of the orphanage that she lived in.

The Stones of Venice, published in 1851, by John
Ruskin uses the architecture of Venice to describe the author’s experience of
the place1.
The author gives a detailed narration of the architectural structures that he
came across. Unlike other travelers, Ruskin contends that he is able to give a
detailed account of Venice and look deeper into the meaning of each and every
architectural structure.

Gender has been used to classify individuals into
either males or females through reliance on the norms and the responsibilities
that are assigned to each individual in the society as well as the cultural
perspective of the differences between the male gender and the female gender.
The gender roles assigned to each sex differ depending on the community. For
example, in Africa women are the cooks while men are the breadwinners of the
family while in other continents the roles might be interchanged in that both
men and women might be the cooks as well as the breadwinners of the household.
Based on the aforementioned example, one can easily argue that gender roles can
be used to describe a community.

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