Love Affairs in The English Patient by Ondaatje
The English Patient is based on the love story between the mysterious English patient who later turned out to be Hungarian Desert Adventurer László, and Clifton’s wife, Katharine Clifton in the years before the Second World War. Burnt badly after an amnesia-stricken aviation accident, Almásy is taken to a fortuitous hospital in a deserted villa towards the end of the Second World War (Ondaatje, p. 56). Her nurse, Hana, thinks she could not move her unknown patient and still sits at the villa with him even though Europe’s war has virtually ended. Almásy is not able to recall his name or nationality but remembers Katherine’s love and how he felt about her.
His story is shared with Hana and the other people in the villa including Caravaggio, the thief who was fighting for the Allies. Although Ondaatje as a novel focuses mainly on Almásy and Katharine’s love, love still leads others to each other and implies them both deeply. In The English Patient’s portrayal of love, Ondaatje highlights at once the ability of love to cure and kill everything and insists that love is capable of transcending all.
Love in English Patient is represented as an enormously forceful force that transforms people and drives them to envy or even insanity as it gives passion and profound attachment. The tale of Almásy captures both the power and the destructive power of passion. Insane is who Almasy thinks he is since he fell in love with Katherine despite being a married woman. As he spoke, one could tell that he still was very protective and possessive about his love for her. He wishes to detach Katharine entirely from Geoffrey, her husband, and he believes that whether her husband will keep track of her or hold her, he has Katharine by himself. Almasy has a short relationship with Katharine, but he loves her so utterly that when he cannot have her he is nearly mad.
Katharine’s delinquency with respect to her husband and her fear of the situation put an end to their love affair. If the husband were to find out about it, that would hurt him. Katharine explains to Almásy how she cannot be with him because of her husband, and her apprehension is justified. Geoffrey discovers the affair between Katharine and Almásy, and indeed he is propelled to insanity.
Geoffrey thinks of a strategy to kill Almasy to crash his aircraft while in the African Desert since he is a pilot. He ends up dead since his plot fails and his wife, Katharine is left badly wounded as she was on the plane with him. The affair of love is turbulent. The man who has never felt alone in the wilderness, even without Catherine, can’t bear it. He wants all social rules to be “burned down, all kinds of” to get to her. He knows, but he cares as long as he can remain with her, they are “sinners in a holy city.”
She builds a wall among them in public and refuses to even see him or recognize him. This leads him to become insane, but he knows that Katharine does it to protect himself because he has been emotionally protected for so long from the outside world. Passionate romantic love is depicted in the novel as debilitating, both in terms of the ecstasy it can provide and how it can overpower a person’s logic. Furthermore, it depicts such affection as inevitably possessive and protective (Ondaatje, p. 78). The fight for this passion by the Austrian Almásy and the British Geoffrey is like the global rivalry between North Africa in the months leading up to World War II that caused a global rivalry.
The novel starts in 1945 in Italy, with a young nurse, Hana, gardening outside a villa. The Germans fleeing Italian landscapes have ended the European war theater. Hana finds herself alone looking out for a guy she knows so little of. In the wreck of a plane crash, his whole body was left black, including the least sensitive and over-defined contact. The subject of the novel is Kip, and we read more about his work. Despite his brother’s mistrust of the west, Kip was enlisted to fight in the British army. Lord Suffolk, a real British gentleman, educated him as a bomb disincentive and was virtually an England family. Kip became an expert in his work and quickly inferred both the jokes and nature of every bomb it detonated.
After killing Lord Suffolk and his party, Kip leaves England to work as a soldier in Italy. He uses her to interact with mankind as he encounters Hana. Both villa residents toasted Hana’s 21st birthday, and Kip settled here when her boyfriend. But on the air, Kip heard in August that the United States bombarded Japan. He becomes angry because he knows that no other white nation in the west will ever do so. He draws his pistol and attempts to kill the patient in English, whose Western sign he finds to be. Kip did not kill Almasy but instead rides his motorcycle and never returns to the villa. Years back, he is in India with his own family as a practitioner. He dreams of Hana, too, while he is content with his new life.
The fact that the English Patient depicts love as an infuriating, challenging, and ultimately catastrophic force, it also depicts love as a comforting force that consoles and supersedes the novel’s lead characters in the wake of World War II. The most serious misery of Almásy derives from his romantic relationship with Katharine and her death. Almásy says at the end of the book that we die in love with a wealth of lovers. He went ahead and said that when he died, he would want all that to be written on his corpse (Ondaatje, p. 112). In his love tale, Almasy finds healing and closure, and he is forced to tell somebody about it as he approaches death. Love cures and also brings Hana closure.
The child develops an attachment between parents and mothers to an English patient, who is seriously burned during the fight like her own father Patrick. Patrick died alone far from his daughter, and by her passion for the English patient, Hana was coping with his death. Kip is disoriented as a mine a bomb expert with bad scars from the war, but his relationship with Hana gives him peace against all he has been through.
Unlike the lustful Almásy and Geoffrey whose feelings make the insane, Kip looks for resilience in Hana’s feelings and feels if he can touch them only, he can revert back to normal. When Kip falls into love with Hana, the war’s mental damage keeps healing, and Kip’s love for Kip gives her a sense of commitment following the war’s loss. Kip’s passion for Hana goes beyond the brutality of war, as does his father and Almásy’s love for Katherine, and beyond the viciousness of time.
Ondaatje, Michael. English Patient. Toronto: Vintage, 1993.