Commentary on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Essay

Commentary on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Essay

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This commentary will explore the use of vocabulary, punctuation and imagery by Milan Kundera in an extract of the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being . The passage to be analysed is located in the fourth part of the book named “Soul and Body”. It portrays a scene where one of the main characters, Tereza, is in front of a mirror and finds herself dealing with the conflict between identity and image. Her disconformities with her body act as a trigger for this questioning to arise and bring back memories from her childhood. The entire passage is structured in three sections: one where she criticises her body, another where queries arise from these observations and finally one where she demonstrates her definite opinion on the situation. Kundera has employed language in a manner that the reader is able to relate and respond to Tereza’s insecurities.
In the novel, Kundera makes an extended use of symbolism through many elements, the mirror included in them. As a symbol, this artefact works as a depicter of the truth, of the reality we sometimes blind ourselves to see. There is no compassion; a mirror presents an object just as it is before our eyes. The fact that the author utilises a sentence on its own to demonstrate this action (“Tereza went in to get dressed and stood in front of the large mirror” (l.1)), gives the impression of there being a pause in which the character is able to ponder on the image reflected towards her. Consequently we face her direct reaction: “No, there was nothing monstrous about her body” (l.3). From the very start we are introduced into an atmosphere of negativity, characteristic of Tereza’s attribution of being a “heavy” woman. Through the adjective “monstrous” we understand how Tereza was looking fo...

... middle of paper ... is demonstrated as a result from childhood scars regarding her confidence. Therefore, as a result, she isn’t satisfied with her life and frequently doubts herself, bringing down her self esteem further on. In my opinion, Tereza seeks to be united with Tomas merely in soul because she knows that union is something nobody else can interfere in, since a bond of that type has the guarantee of being eternal, whereas a body can change and decay. Despite the idea that our soul is supposed to be light as it is what emerges from us after death, I believe it is the body which is light as it only serves a function over a limited period of time, whereas our soul can be preserved either on its own or in unison with another one.

Works Cited

Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, trans. Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. New York: Faber and Faber, 1984. Pp. 134-135.

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