In Written on the Body, the line “it’s the clichés that cause the trouble” (10) is one that not only is repeated in the novel but is a foundation for the way the narrator speaks. The narrator expresses their desire for Louise extensively through metaphors of nature, the universe, amongst various other elements. The narrator early on refers to love as an inexplicable thing but contradicts themself by finding different ways of explaining that for himself. In another passage, the writer details ties that “twitched when Louise walked by and the suits pulled themselves in a little.” (32) The narrator knows that Louise attracts everyone’s attention, including those of married people like themself. This is also an example of how cliches don’t do Louise’s beauty justice to the narrator, nor the complexities of the affair. At the end of the passage, they remind themself that the ring is capable of burning them. Louise is the muse for the narrator, a sin in flesh and a symbol of internal conflict about morals they choose to embody.
In a different passage, the narrator has us visualize a conversation with Louise, who tell them that they don’t want false confessions of their love for her. The lover in their mind has a dispute, comparing Louise to the angel in Love and the Pilgrim, a work of art that shows an angel guiding a person out of vines. They say “Find your own way through and you shall win your heart’s desire. Fail and you will wander for ever in these unforgiving walls.” (54) The cliche here would have been, “art imitating life” but this individual weeds out the issue, while giving us detailed description of the manifestation of their problem in the artwork. The lovers are both actors in painting that almost reveals as if it was fate that brought them together. If the clichés are what cause the trouble, then the metaphors and imagery are what reveal the intensity of those troubles.