Amy Foster & The Mythology of Love

In "Amy Foster", Joseph Conrad has written a great story that
shows the different types of love felt between Amy and Yanko as
described by Joseph Campbell in his essay on "The Mythology of Love".

The relationship of Yanko and Amy is dynamic and changes as the story
progresses. At first, Amy feels compassion for Yanko; she does not see
the differences between him and the English people as the others of

Brenzett do. However, later in the story, compassion turns to passion.

Amy\'s son is then born; distinctions appear and she is either no
longer able to love Yanko or she loves Yanko to such an extent that
she finds she is incapable of joining Yanko on an earthly plane as

Joseph Campbell describes (page 159). Whatever the reasons may be,

Amy refuses to aid Yanko in his time of need, resulting in Yanko\'s
death. There is a great change of heart from Amy\'s first compassion
for Yanko to her nonchalance of his death. However, the results may
have only been a product of the different levels of love felt by Amy
for Yanko. The general population of Brenzett treats Yanko an escaped
lunatic when he is first spotted in the seaside town. He is whipped,
stoned and beaten by many of the residents. In addition, he was
captured and caged like a wild animal. He is described as a "drunk",

"tramp", and "creature". He is very different from the usual

Englishman and is treated as such. He is segregated and is forced to
work for Mr. Swaffer. However, one person sees through the
differences. Amy, perhaps because of her stupidity or an ability to
feel for Yanko, does not see a wild foreigner that screams at night
and dances strangely. She saw only the similarities, the oneness of
two human beings, and not the separateness. This is the basis of
compassion, as Campbell shows. Thus, Amy is able to be "selfless,
boundless, without ego". This compassion shown for Yanko expresses the
affection felt by Amy for the foreigner and is received by him as
love. The love is returned by Yanko in his actions, when he buys Amy a
green ribbon and eventually proposes marriage. This is one of the
levels of love described by Joseph Campbell, compassion. It transcends
differences and differences. The nature of the relationship changes
after the two marry. It degrades from a "higher, spiritual order of
love" to an "animal passion". It is no longer a oneness for which Amy
loves Yanko. Rather, it is the sex drive, the physical want of a male
for a female and vice versa. This type of relationship, as

Campbell states, still "transcends differences and even loyalties".

Conrad writes, "Her infatuation endured. People saw her
going out to meet him in the evening. She stared with unblinking,
fascinated eyes up the road where he was expected to appear..." This
clearly shows that Amy no longer feels compassion; instead, she feels
passion for Yanko. Socially, it is more powerful to feel passion
rather than compassion. However, Campbell asserts that compassion
reveals a deeper understanding of oneness and connection rather than a
lower form of love such as passion, the mere sexual longing for a
member of the opposite sex. Therefore, what may seem to be a
development of greater love for one another may in essence be the
degradation of true love. Soon after, the passion evolves yet again.

There is some ambiguity to what type of love it has been transformed
into; there are two possibilities because of which Amy refuses to help

Yanko. It could be that Amy\'s love for Yanko has developed into the
third love described by Joseph Campbell, a love for one specific
person. "For let us note well (and here is the high point of Mann\'s
thinking on the subject): what is lovable about any human being is
precisely his imperfections," says Campbell (page 167). Amy begins to
love Yanko for the individual that he is, not the person that is
connected to her or the member of the opposite sex. Amy sees how he
sings to their new son in a strange language, he teaches the boy how
to pray; she sees his differences, and realizes that she could never
really be one with him on "this earth". Could this be why Amy allows

Yanko to die? Perhaps she love\'s him so much she finds the only way to
be one with him is to allow him to die. Perhaps the "agony of love" is
too much for her to bear and thus she ends the