Robin Wilkey
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Love and Passion in ''The Dark Mirror of Desire"

"So, what is the fate of understanding?" said Ivan, after a long period of solitude.

"Not understanding?" said Daniela.

"That's it," said Ivan.

"But it doesn't matter why you went away, I wanted to prove it to you!" said Daniela.

"You didn't need to prove it to me!"

"That's the point, I didn't, so I made love to you anyway. I wanted to."

Ivan smiled. "And before I met you I thought your only purpose in seeing me again was to say that we could not possibly love one another."

"But then the meaning of your dream would become confused!" she said, laughing. "And what do you think about women? Do you think women are incapable of love?"

Ivan looked at her dishevelled dress, so pretty before they had got out of the car. Her exposed legs somehow gave him the feeling that she was completely disposed to his passion, whatever that might entail. She had no wish to hurriedly cover herself, so an exposed breast or a gesture of supposed abandon was perhaps an indication of her submission to his desire for her.

Whilst K. and Frieda rolled passionately on the floor they landed with a thud against Klamm's door. But Klamm called for Frieda (Ivan imagined that this was Klima's voice) but instead of starting at the authoritative nature of Klamm's voice K. whispered in Frieda's ear, passing on the summons. With mechanical instinct Frieda sprang to her feet. Then she remembered where she was, stretched, and said she is not going: I'm never going to him again. K. wanted to object and he began to urge her to go to Klamm, and he helped her fasten up her disordered blouse. But it seemed to him in letting Frieda go he would lose all he had. Frieda clenched her fist and banged on the door, I am with the Land Surveyor! She shouted.

The question arose in Ivan's mind whether the abandonment of love was a derivative of desire, and that the feelings that now engrossed him were something over which he had no control. His thoughts returned to her question, are women incapable of love?

"How can you say such a thing?" he asked, and then stared at her exposed body as like K. he endeavoured to button up her dress for her. But in doing so he only reflected on his own desire without taking into account any feelings that Daniela might have experienced at that moment. The same could be said of Daniela, except that she felt guilty.

That was the moment that she wanted him to love her. Not later, when the dark mirror of reflection would make her think that in gaining one such passion to love she might be losing another. But all senses had been changed, Klima could be just as passionate, but for the moment she didn't care. However, the sensibility of loving Klima had long since been lost in the violence that followed. She could not bear the thought of being stripped of all morality, because that was the way Klima loved her.

"I was just asking," said Daniela. She smiled when she saw his unsteady fingers fumbling with her dress. She lay back and let him dress her.

"No one is incapable of love, I suppose, but why do you speak for women? Men are as incapable of love?" Ivan thought of Klima. "Is that what Klima says, that women are incapable of love? What does he know about love!"

"We cannot change the way we feel" protested Daniela.

"Is that how you feel, that he has made you incapable of love?"

She smiled at him again, but there was no feeling to the thoughts that lay hidden behind her eyes. The silence of her lips made it perfectly clear. He wanted her to understand that such feelings could be regained, that there was a certainty in the way love could then be expressed, it was not a question of feeling betrayed, it was a question of learning to trust again. There was also a virtue to Ivan's simple questions that made Daniela feel warm inside. Also, a certain tranquillity made her heart dissolve the hatred that she felt towards Klima, so that she seemed quite indifferent to what Ivan recalled of her feelings. However, Ivan did not care what it was, or what had made her like this.

The above extract is from Chapter 18