Themes from Unbearable Lightness of Being Essay

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Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being Kundera's novel is a novel of themes and variations. These themes, and the variations on them, are the dichotomies of lightness and weight, soul and body, strength and weakness, and fidelity and infidelity. Other themes are "the event" of totalitarianism, misunderstood words, the Grand March, and death, among others. The plot is not put forward as a straight chronology, but jumps around in time, with the author later interjecting bits that were left out previously. This makes the book more difficult than it needs to be. The plot revolves around the various relationships of the four main characters, Tomas, Tereza, Sabina and Franz. The chief main character is Tomas, a Czech surgeon, divorcee, and an "epic" womanizer. He has invented a form of "erotic friendship" that allows him to enjoy many mistresses without being responsible for any of them. This works well for him until he meets Tereza, a simple waitress from a country town. Tomas can not resist this love, which he tries to return, but he goes on womanizing. This is deeply wounding to Tereza. Then the crisis of 1968 and the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia impact their lives. Tomas has unwisely published an anti-Party article in a newspaper. He accepts a job in Zurich, and Tereza accompanies him, hoping exile will solve the problems of their relationship. But, he continues womanizing, particularly with Sabina, another Czech émigré. Sabina also begins a liaison with Franz, a liberal Swiss academic. Tereza thinks she is making Tomas miserable so she returns to Czechoslovakia. Tomas is relieved at first, but then finds that he cannot live without her. He thus returns to Czechoslovakia. They both know that they will not get out again. Tomas' political black marks catch up with him, but he refuses to sign a retraction. He is demoted from

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