In Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy, the Condition of the Human Heart Is Explored in Several Ways
In Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy, the condition of the human heart is explored in several ways. Through Paul and his dealings with Keller and through his relationship with Rosie. Through Keller and the way he relates to Paul, and finally through Keller and way he deals with society.
Maestro is written in the first person with an adult Paul, the main character, reflecting back over his life. It begins with Paul and Keller’s first meeting and they are both presented to us as rather arrogant and insensitive. However, when the adult Paul then interjects into his story about how he can understand that it might be incredible to believe that he came to ‘love this man’, his gruff music teacher the reader is brought to the realisation that there is a lot more depth to those characters and to their emotions than we might have previously thought.
Throughout the book, Paul’s attitude towards Keller changes many times usually as a direct result of the way Keller treats him. For example, when Keller throws away one of Paul’s manuscripts, Paul fiercely hates him but when Keller surprisingly says that Paul should have won the music competition, Paul once again feels genuine affection for him. These changes in feelings by Paul show that he is a character who often lets his heart rule his head, and that his behaviour is very often dictated by his emotional condition.
This is also shown through Paul’s relationship with Rosie who he, during the early stages of their association, dislikes,despite her obvious affection for him. But as he grows and matures, he gains appreciation for Rosie and even later on in the book where he becomes very self focused and self involved, he says that ‘at a time when most of my love was saved for myself, that I loved her was no small feat.’
The condition of the human heart is also explored with the unusual relationship that Keller has with Paul. Despite the fact that Keller often criticises Paul and that he appears to be just an angry old drunk, he still shows obvious affection for Paul. For example, when Keller haphazardly sends a signed first edition manuscript to Paul, and Paul’s mother makes the comment that perhaps that’s the only way he can give it,’ carelessly –at a distance-, as if it meat nothing’. Although this behaviour is at first extremely confusing as we learn more of Keller’s past, more of the incredible tragedies he has been through, we can begin to appreciate that it is all of this hurt he has inside him to act the way he does, almost as if her feels the only way to protect against more hurt is to keep separate and show no real emotions towards anyone.
Keller himself who explores the human condition through the ‘textbooks’ he creates of newspaper clippings of the tragic and bizarre, almost as if he believes that by studying these incidences of human frailty and failure that he might gain some understanding of the incidents in his own life. Certainly, he has learnt valuable lessons from these textbooks and tells Paul that he only ‘wishes that I had had such textbooks when I was your age’.
The condition of the human heart is explored in many ways in Maestro with much emphasis being placed on the insensitivity of a hurt heart through the rough actions of Paul and Keller. But ultimately it is shown that the experiences which one faces are the greatest decider of how one feels.