The Significance of the Coast in Fontane’s No Way Back and On Tangled Path essay


TheSignificance of the Coast in Fontane’s NoWayBackand OnTangledPath

TheSignificance of the Coast in Fontane’s NoWay Backand OnTangled Path

InFontane’s NoWay Back,the reader first encounters the significance of the coast through thecharacter known as Count Helmuk Holk. Count Helmuk Holk is married tohis wife Christine, who has been portrayed to from a devoutbackground and hence her very serious character. When count Holk madea visit to his brother in laws, he was inspired to build his home onthe coast from an engraving hanging on the wall. The author describesthe quotes that that are illustrated beneath the engraving. “Haveyou seen the castle?&nbsp It towers by the sea.&nbsp The cloudsabove drift by, all golden and pink” (Fontane, 2010). This is the quote that captivated Count Holk to having the desire tobuild their home on the coast.

Fontanehas metaphorically used this coastal symbol to represent the marriagestatus that was between Count Holk and his wife Christine. While thereader expects that their contrasting nature should attract eachother as opposites naturally attracts, the opposite is quite holdsfor this couple. Being at the centre of this novel, they have beendemonstrated by Fontane being nothing alike. Christine is a seriouswife, beautiful, wise, and threatening, but is devoted to her husbandbecause of her strict religious background.

Onthe other hand, her husband, Count Holk is a pleasure loving andlight-hearted character who is seen not sensitive towards his wife’sfeelings and emotions (Fontane, 2010). They live in a castle thatCount Holk built on the coast as it overlooks the sea. In theirtwenty three years of marriage, they have been blessed with twochildren. However, Count Holk’s aspiration and desire of a happylife at the coast is not to be as their marriage seems to be givingin to certain tensions between themselves as the marriage is seencrumbling.

Inthe engraving at his in-law’s, count Holk only read and gotcontented to the first quote that captivated him of a home at thecoast. He disregarded the remaining part that reads thewinds and the waves all lay in deep peace.&nbsp In tears I listenedto a song of mourning from the hall” (Fontane, 2010).Thispart of the quote seemed to reflect the state of their marriage atthe coast as presented by Fontane. The analysis of this quote isdemonstrated by both characters, for example, Count Holk has beendemonstrated as a man who always lives in the moment and fails to seebeyond it, until something unfortunate happens.

Onthe other hand, his wife Christine has been depicted as a characterthat is forever paying attention on the hereafter. Theirincompatibility and marriage problems have not always existed asdemonstrated by Fontane and eventually Count Holk has an affair withEbba. However, they seem to be quarrelling, bickering and fightingover their marital priorities, for example the building of the newfamily mausoleum (Fontane, 2010).

Onthe other hand, OnTangled Paththe main characters live at the coast house. The story is of aromantic relationship between Botho who is an aristocratic officerand Lene, who is a working class girl. Frau Nimptsch is the fostermother of Lene and she owns the house that is next to the lake thatis in close proximity to Faru Doerr who is Frau’s friend. Whencompared with NoWay Back,OnTangled Pathis an unfortunate love affair between Botho and Lene, who are fromdifferent social classes (Fontane, 2010). The two seem to know thattheir relationship was going to fail eventually, despite the factthat they loved each other. That is the difference the two booksillustrate about the two love affairs.

EventuallyBotho had to succumb to the pressure from his family and marryanother woman of his social class. The woman that Botho is forced tomarry has been demonstrated by Fontane as being overly charming andsuperficial, traits that displease Botho. On the hand, Lene knew thattheir affair was doomed from the start and thus she did not fight orexude emotions when Botho married another woman. She also accepted,marriage proposal and got married to Gideon, who is a local factoryworker. However, unlike Botho, Gideon has been portrayed by Fontaneas being serious-minded and an extremely upright man (Fontane, 2010).When a reader contrasts these novels, he or she will learn that NoWay Backis a story of a tragic end in a happy marriage while OnTangled Pathsis a love story that has a melancholic ending.

Inaddition the characters presented in both novels seem to be natureloving people. They are rarely alone, and spend most of the time atthe coastal views that marvel them. During the intensity in theirlives, the characters choose to find their own bearings throughself-evaluations and self-revelation in the beautiful coastallandscapes. Therefore, Fontane has used the coast to represent aplace where his characters are able to shift their own gears duringintense moments in their lives.


FontaneTheodor. (2010). OnTangled Paths. London.Angel Books, 2010

FontaneTheodor. (2010). NoWay Back BookLondon. Angel Books, 2010