Commentary on Impossible Object (Nicholas Mosley) Tara Singh 12/3/12 English Grade 12 In Nocholas Mosley’s prose piece Impossible Object he depicts the life of a Hippolyta a mother of one child who is separated from her husband. Mosley’s depiction of Rome as a city, along with his depiction of Hippolyta herself and her relationship with her husband and child illustrates his main idea of happiness and love being unattainable for an affluent member of society. Hippolyta: 1)The opening sentence of the prose piece introduces Hippolyta “overlooking the Borghese gardens. ” a.
This image sets up an atmosphere of regality where Hippolyta is described to look over gardens that are something natural and beautiful. This image sets up the contrast to Hippolyta’s life, which is not very natural or beautiful in that we later find out she is separated from her husband. Following this sentence is the introduction of wealth “Hippolyta was rich. ” b. Hippolyta is described as a “large, thin” girl with eyes “half closed” and “hands pushing behind her as if she was in a gale. ” The descriptions of her eyes portray her as if she is not awake, or for that matter close to being dead. . Her arms pushing behind her depict the stance of an authoritative figure. This displays a contrast between her and her husband. c. Right after Mosley depicts her physical appearance he then introduces her husband who is an “Italian Aristocrat. ” This immediate reference to money continues the theme of wealth. d. When the author describes the frenzy that Hippolyta works herself up into she first describes her somewhat barbaric when he says, “she would hit her fist against her body like a parachutist searching for a failed ripcord. ” i.
This presents a stark contrast between her lavish lifestyle that is uncovered. The simile of the parachutist helps depict the fact that Hippolyta is not only confused but she is also on her way to self-destruction. A parachutist with a failed ripcord will lose their life. e. Although in this passage Hippolyta’s physical appearances are described to be imposing and superior, she is also described as being dependent on her husband. i. This is seen where he says, “Hippolyta seemed still attached to her husband by the umbilicus of the telephone; although separated no one cut her free. This symbolizes the fact that although she lives this lavish lifestyle she is still bounded to her husband and cannot enjoy the fruits of life. Relationship with Husband and Child: Hippolyta’s relationship with her husband and her child is another iteration of the fact that she is constrained by her relationship with her husband to full her role as a nurturer for her child. a. Hippolyta is depicted as a wife who tortures and traps her husband. i. “trapped fly” ii. “working him into a frenzy and showing her friends. ” iii. The narrator also compares Hippolyta to Caligula, an illegal torturer who once held a lot of power in Rome. watched men being kept alive in tiny cages. ” This is a parallel to what Hippolyta is doing to her husband. iv. She also engages the narrator in her torture methods when she holds out the phone “She did her slow laugh into the receiver…” b. In the first paragraph Hippolyta is being described as separated from her husband. Although this reference refers to the fact that she does not live with him anymore, it also sets up a contrast to the reality of her situation. i. Also in the first paragraph the images of Hippolyta are contrasted with that of her husband.
He is described to be a “minor Italian aristocrat. Where she is described as “powerful and matronly. ” This image is juxtaposed by the image of her being bounded to her husband both financially and through their child. c. Hippolyta is actually bounded to her husband through their shared child. Hippolyta’s child I used as a “weapon with which to fight and keep themselves going. ” d. The dysfunctional relationship with her husband portrayed through various images is shown to affect her relationship with her child. e. The narrator says “Hippolyta’s child sat in a high chair while its mother and father failed to communicate. This indicates that Hippolyta does not communicate with her husband nor does she communicate with her child. f. This is further extrapolated during Hippoyta’s conversation with her husband when she pays no attention to her child that is emptying a bowl of soup on the floor. g. The child is described to have a face like a war-leader. The war that the child is combating is the one between her mother and father. Both her parents seem to neglect it. As it pours more soup the narrator describes the child to “see what it’s enemies would do. ”The enemy being the mother who neglects the child. . When Hippolyta realizes that the child has spilled the soup the narrator says, “Hippolyta lunged either to hit it or love it; the child might have liked either. But Hippolyta could not get far enough because of the cord of the telephone. ” i. This indicates that the child is neglected in her relationship with Hippolyta as she would like any sort of attention even if it is violent. j. Hippolyta’s relationship with her husband prevents her from loving her child which is a fundamental value in families. k. Narrator has to clean up the mess. l.
Instead of introducing the narrator to Hippolyta’s child she instead says, “Do you like my kid? ” Almost addressing the child as an object. She later continues to say, “I’d be dead without that kid. ” This brings to surface the reality of her situation, which is that she is using her child as means of getting money from her husband. m. The state of Hippolyta’s family and relationships within the family help depict the state of disorder. Hippolyta neglects her child, and has a broken relationship with her husband, which in turn reflects the fact that her life is absent of love.
One of the most fundamental emotions that one needs to be happy. The broken state of the family is used in order to emphasize that love is one of the impossible objects Hippolyta is unable to attain. III. a. The setting of Rome along with the environment which is described emphasizes Hippolyta as a cruel leader much like an authoritative figure who will not experience happiness because of her obsession with money and material goods. b. When the author writes about his visit to Rome he parallels the city as a whole to Hippolyta. He says that “Rome was a place of cruelty had been normal. and “Hippolyta’s flat was close to where Caligula had once walked and had watched men being kept alive in tiny cages. ” c. The conflict between the Hippolyta and her husband is one that serves as contrast to the lavish lifestyle that she lives, which is presented in the opening remarks. ” overlooking Borghese gardens. ” “”her flat was full of poets, drug-addicts, and hairdressers that are symbols of the fashionable world. ” d. He also describes her flat as a “crenellated building round which traffic swam in a moat. ” This portrayal separates Hippolyta from commoners.
She is again depicted as an authoritative figure who owns her fortress. e. This also separates Hippolyta from the rest of the people who are living in her flat. The image that reinforces this idea is when the narrator says, “Rome lay beneath us with its rooftops and turrets. ” i. This description of Rome being closed off with rooftops and turrets is a parallel to Hippolyta herself in the sense that she is closed off and will never experience love or happiness. This connects to the title of the prose piece because happiness for Hippolyta is an “impossible object,” something that she will never attain. . When the narrator discusses Hippolyta’s childhood and how she had been brought up in Los Angeles and had come to Rome as a girl, he also elaborates on both cities. i. His discussion of Los Angeles as a place without a center and spread out like split milk is ironic due to the fact that although Hippolyta lives in Rome she is actually split in the sense that she no longer lives with her husband. ii. The narrator describes Rome as the center of law, order, and religion, which is also ironical because Hippolyta does not live a life of order.
In fact, it is the opposite. g. This is later elaborated in the closing remarks when Hippolyta’s drawing is described to have “silk-covered chairs” and “high windows looking over the garden. ” “There were children riding on ponies. Lovers lay on the grass. ” These two images emphasize what Hippolyta is lacking in her life, a happy child and love. h. This is explicitly stated when the narrator says, “I thought-Hippolyta has health, money, good looks, a child; so she wants to hurt other people and destroy herself. This alludes to the fact that despite Hippolyta’s affluence it still does not buy her happiness, in fact it seems to only contribute to her corruption as a person. i. In the narrator’s encounter with Hippolyta he says, “I thought we would get on well. ” This flashback expresses a sentiment of opposition. It is apparent that Hippolyta is presented as a nurturer, because she provides a home, a bed, food and communication. However, it is apparent that she does not provide for him because material goods does not satisfy the human spirit. IV. Conclusion a.
In Nicholas Mosley’s prose piece the Impossible Object though the characterization of Hippolyta and her relationships he is able to convey the idea that money and wealth cannot buy you love or happiness. b. In this case although Hippolyta is torturing her husband, she is actually the victim in that her search for happiness and love will never be completed. She neglects her child, which is the only source of possible love for her. c. In this prose piece, Mosley critiques wealth as a poor replacement for the fundamental values for the human spirit which are love and happiness.