Veronika Decides To Die Essay

Veronika Decides To Die Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho.

Veronika Decides to Die is a 1998 novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. It follows the story of a 24-year-old woman’s attempted suicide and stay at a mental hospital.

The novel takes place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a few years after the break up of Yugoslavia. Veronika is a young librarian with a good life that she nonetheless finds unfulfilling. Though she has a job, friends and family, she feels nothing but apathy toward her life and feels no great draw toward the kind of life that is expected of her. She feels powerless to change her life and feels that things will only get worse as she ages, so makes a relatively passionless decision to end her life in order to find “freedom.” As she waits for the pills to take hold, she reads an article asking, “Where is Slovenia?” (in a meta stroke, the article is stated as being written by Coelho) and decides to write a letter to the editor, justifying her suicide as a reaction to the article’s belittlement of her home country.

Her suicide attempt fails, however, and she awakens in an infamous mental institution called Villete. Her doctor, Igor, tells her that she has damaged her heart so much that she only has a few days to live, which she is expected to live out in the institution. Though initially disappointed by her unsuccessful suicide, as the days continue she finds herself experiencing life more fully than ever before, as she has nothing to do lose. Her actions are uninhibited by other’s opinions and expectations.

While at the institution she meets a number of patients with varied experiences with “madness.” She questions the nature of insanity as she gets to know them. Mari, a wife, mother, and successful lawyer, was treated for intense panic attacks. Though Dr. Igor told her that she could return home, Mari said she wanted to stay to give her husband time to recover for the months of stress prior to her institutionalization. As she, cured of her symptoms, gets ready to leave and resume her life, a colleague tells her that she was being forced to resign. She begs him to let her return, stating “I have lived with two sorts of people: those who have no chance of ever going back into the society and those who are completely cured but who prefer to pretend to be mad rather than face up life’s responsibilities. I want and need to learn myself again, have to convince myself that I’m capable of taking my own decisions.” He remains firm, and she loses her job. Mere days later, a lawyer visits her and informs her that her husband is seeking a divorce. Devastated, she lies and tells Dr. Igor that her symptoms have returned and asks to stay. Though he knows she is lying, he agrees, and Mari becomes exactly the type of reality-avoiding patient she begged her colleague to spare her from embodying.

Another patient, Eduard, is getting treated for schizophrenia. Born to a rich and powerful Yugoslavian ambassador, Eduard was raised to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, after an accident and a stay in a hospital he developed an ambition to paint. His father strongly disapproved, and pushed him to continue his path toward becoming a diplomat. Afraid to further disappoint him, Eduard buried his dream of painting and followed his father’s wishes. However, in the wake of this decision Eduard loses his grip on reality and becomes diagnosed with schizophrenia and ends up at Villete.

As Veronika interacts with these patients, she discovers versions of herself that she didn’t know existed, and that she finds much more compelling and satisfying than her old self. She finds herself playing the piano again, a former passion that she had abandoned, and her sonata attracts Eduard, with whom she falls in love as she never has before.

Zedka, getting treatment for depression, outright states upon meeting Veronika that geniuses such as Einstein and Columbus were thought to be crazy, though they merely “lived in their own worlds.” She is being treated for an obsession over a former lover. Though married with children, she became fixated on tracking him down, and was convinced he was seeking her as well. She directly expresses the novel’s doubts about the nature of madness, stating: ‘…insanity is the inability to communicate your ideas. It’s as if you were in a foreign country, able to see and understand everything that’s going on around you but incapable of explaining what you need to know or of being helped, because you don’t understand the language they speak there.’ ‘We’ve all felt that.’ And all of us, one way or another, are insane.’

As Veronika approaches her final 24 hours, she finds herself reinvigorated by life and tells Dr. Igor she desires to leave the institution in her final hours to see Ljubljana castle and “…give [herself] to one man, to the city, to life and, finally, to death.” However, it is revealed that Veronika was not in fact dying, but that Dr. Igor merely told her that she was in order to attempt to shock her into appreciating her life. The novel concludes with Veronika and Eduard celebrating their life and future together.

Much of the novel is based on the author’s own experiences in mental institutions. As a young man, Coelho was himself institutionalized by his parents three times by age sixteen due to their inability to control him and to attempt to dissuade him from becoming a writer.

A character-driven analysis on the nature of sanity and our society’s pressures to conform, Veronika Decides to Die showcases one woman’s journey toward carving out a meaningful life away from ingrained societal expectations.

Veronica Decides To Die

  • Length: 603 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
     What is reality? Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines it as: something that exists independently of ideas concerning it; something that exists independently of all other things and from which all other things derive; something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent. So, what defines reality? I mean can anyone, in all honesty, construct a concrete reproduction in which to turn and point proclaiming once and for all, “There, I give you reality in the flesh.” The answer simply is no. For as, the character, Dr. Igor stated “. . . Other things, however, become fixed because more and more people believe that’s the way they should be (167).” Reality is nothing more than a socially accepted opinion – a perception inherently subjective. This very principle is the driving force behind Paulo Coelho’s introspective novel, Veronica Decides To Die.
     Veronica Decides to Die is an interesting story about a young woman called "Veronica" who wants to die but her suicide is not successful and she finds herself in "Villet", a place for the both the insane, as well as, the sane. Although she insists on pursuing the end she has chosen, some events, relationships, and her doctor's trick changes her view toward life.
This novel is colored by the author's intimate knowledge of the world of mental hospitals, the relationships, and the comfort and anxiety of living in such a place. Coelho’s story of insanity and madness in contrast to the monotony of life provokes the feeling of self-discovery and the power of challenging all limitations and traditions. In this atmosphere created by Coelho, you learn that being different doesn't mean being mad and you understand that reality is something the majority deems to be, not necessary the best or the most logical one. It is in the vivid moments of Veronica Decides To Die that you can feel love and religious beliefs are the most important feelings one can have in one's life. You also recognize how one can stop one's feelings like fear, hatred and love and let them emerge in a way which makes one fresh without any "vitrol" (mind's bitterness), the poison believed to be the cause of insanity.
     Paulo Coelho first won my heart with his work entitled, The Alchemist, and with Veronica Decides To Die he secured a permanent place there. I must say that this particular novel was, at times, hard for me to read – not for any technical fault on Coelho’s part – because the story being told in many ways is my life.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Veronica Decides To Die." 14 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Divergent, by Veronica Roth Essay - Every day, struggle charges into peoples’ lives, causing rage, ruin, and wreaking havoc. Struggle is in every world, whether it’s on Earth or in a book, such as Divergent. Divergent, written by Veronica Roth, takes place in a dystopian world where a civilization splits its population into five factions that represent their beliefs: Abnegation for selflessness, Amity for peace, Candor for honesty, Dauntless for bravery, and Erudite for intelligence. After the main character Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior goes through Dauntless initiation, she learns that Erudite is planning an attack on the Abnegation people....   [tags: Literary Devices, Struggle Portrayal]
:: 1 Works Cited
932 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Veronika Decides To Die Exemplification Essay - "Veronika Decides to Die," is a novel by Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian writer with many inspirational works such as The Pilgrimage and The Alchemist. This novel begins in the city of Ljubljana; capital of Slovenia, its main character is Veronika, a young and beautiful girl of 24 years of age to whom the monotony of her life has led to suicide. Veronika was certain that at her age, she had achieved everything she wanted. She believed that the only thing that could be missing to live was the bad things of life....   [tags: Paulo Coelho, Brazilian Author, Literary Analysis]
:: 1 Works Cited
1400 words
(4 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay about Euthanasia: We Have the Right to Die - Carol Bernstein Ferry took her own life in June, 2001. She was diagnosed with emphysema and given between six months and a year to live. When she was diagnosed, she could only think of the pain and distress inflicted on her and her family associated with an impossible battle against her disease. Carol Bernstein ended her life in a dignified, peaceful and painless manner and believed strongly in the right for others to do the same. (Harris, 16) Euthanasia, or physician assisted suicide, is the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma....   [tags: Assisted Suicide, Right to Die]
:: 4 Works Cited
1166 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Euthanasia: We Have the Right to Die Essay - What is euthanasia. The dictionary defines euthanasia as the act of putting to death or allowing to die painlessly, a person or animal from a painful incurable disease. Euthanasia is also known as mercy killing. The word euthanasia comes from the Greek word eu- meaning good and the Greek word thanatos which means death. There are two types of euthanasia: active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. Active euthanasia is the practice of ending the life of a person painlessly. While passive euthanasia is the practice of a patient refusing treatment or allowing a patient to die....   [tags: Pro Assisted Suicide, Right to Die]
:: 3 Works Cited
869 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Euthanasia: We Have the Right to Die Essay - Euthanasia is one of the most perplexed issues in the medical field due to the clash of ethical perspectives. Nowadays, the lives of many patients can be preserved with the latest revelations in treatments and technology. But we still are unable to find a remedy for all illnesses, and patients have to go through profoundly difficult, painful and expensive treatments only to have a short amount of extra time. These patients struggle with physical and psychological pain. Due to the high cost of treatment, few have total control of their lives, and the only option is to live a short duration with painful treatments....   [tags: Pro Assisted Suicide, Right to Die]
:: 6 Works Cited
1601 words
(4.6 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
To Die or Not To Die Essay - To Die or Not to Die “AAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Both my brother and I screamed out in the dead of the night. The pain was intolerable and we were begging for some kind of relief from this seemingly never ending scene from Hell. Well before I start there, let me tell you exactly why I was in pain. Twelve days ago, both my brother and I, feeling a particular hatred towards the Total Government Control Act, snuck out to the battlefield from the alien war 10 years ago. There, we fell into some slimy, malleable material and unbeknownst to us, we brought back a non contagious, airborne virus in our bodies, while we were breathing in the germ infested air....   [tags: personal narrrative]731 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Essay on Divergent by Veronica Roth - ... As debriefed above, every element in society contains a worldview whether it is realized or not. This is no exception in the book Divergent. The society in Divergent split into five distinct factions known as Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. From this information, one can infer the worldview depicted in this novel is that one choice defines who a person is forever. This worldview is seen all throughout the book, due to the author’s focus on choice. The characters are forced to choose which faction they wish to reside in, thus possibly leaving all that they previously had known and grown accustomed to....   [tags: Christian review]
:: 3 Works Cited
886 words
(2.5 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Veronica - Why Doesnt Veronica Leave For The City? Essay - The city is an elegant place to live. It calls to the people from the inferior village life. The well led life followed by the city people offers many opportunities compared to the hopelessness of village surroundings. It offers hope, the chance to be independent, the chance of a job. In the story Veronica by Adewale Maja-Pearce, Okeké the ever lasting friend of Veronica is drawn by the attraction of the city for the opportunities he sees for himself. Veronica on the other hand does not desire to leave their decomposing village for the city....   [tags: essays research papers]1005 words
(2.9 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
The Young Couple by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Country Lovers by Nadine Gordimer and Veronica by Adewale Maja-Pearce - “The Young Couple” by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, “Country Lovers” by Nadine Gordimer and “Veronica” by Adewale Maja-Pearce The writers in the following short stories from diverse cultures present relationship problems encountered by characters due to social and cultural pressures. The social pressures are civil war, poverty, apartheid, and education. The cultural pressures are due to different cultures with different values and beliefs, social standings in society and society’s prejudices and discrimination....   [tags: Young Jhabvala Lovers Gordimer Veronica Essays]1398 words
(4 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay on When the Legends Die - When the Legends Die Setting The term setting refers to the time and place of a story or play. There are four different settings in this book. It is like this because the book is divided into four different sections. The four sections are Bessie, The School, The Arena, and The Mountains. All of these sections have totally different settings. First, I will discuss the first section of the book, Bessie. In Bessie, The setting takes place in a town called Pagosa and in the Bald Mountains. The start of the book is in the town....   [tags: When the Legends Die]
:: 1 Works Cited
2952 words
(8.4 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]

Related Searches

Veronica         Other Things         Paulo Coelho         Young Woman         Driving Force         Concrete         Igor         Dictionary         Hospitals        

This bold element of truth employed by Coelho often times feels intrusive and even abrasive, all of which I found materialized for most of my classmates, turning them off. Yet, perhaps this very response validates this clinical illustration of society’s illogical nature. As Dr. Igor later explained, “. . . However, society always imposes on us a collective way of behaving, and people never stop to wonder why they should behave like that . . . (168).” And therefore, reserved for the select few is the invitation to re-examine all the preconceptions by which one allows their life to be governed and then make a change.
Veronica Decides to Die is an odd challenge between life and death. The one, which helps you to realize that every moment of life, is a precious gift--a miracle! Read it once, and you might find the answer of some of your numerous questions about life! While this piece of literature is still very young, when held against Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes and Mafouz’s The Beginning and The End, there is no questioning the future that awaits Coelho and his works.

Categories: 1

0 Replies to “Veronika Decides To Die Essay”

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *