Kundera's 'Unbearable Lightness of Being' analysis: Lightness and Weight

Essay by e-terrorist February 2005

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In Milan Kundera's novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, lightness and weight are two major opposing forces. Kundera believes that neither lightness nor weight is positive and argues that there must be a little bit of both in a character. Throughout the novel, Kundera uses several characters to show how they are not completely happy being either light or heavy. By using this binary he shows that neither part of it is right or wrong.

Kundera uses the relationship between Tomas and Tereza to represent the conflict between lightness and weight. Tomas is a character who starts off enjoying lightness and freedom. He has many affairs but no love and no real relationships. However, when he meets Tereza, his conflict between lightness and weight begins. He wants to be light so he could enjoy his sexual relationships, but Tereza wants a heavier love. She wants Tomas to be only with her.

Tereza takes neither sexuality lightly nor her work. She takes great risks pursuing her political interests, such as taking pictures of the Soviet invasion of Prague. Kundera makes both lightness and weight seem desirable.

Kundera also uses weight as a symbol of meaning. While Tomas lives in lightness, he has no meaning in life. When his life is slowly filled with weight through his relationship with Tereza, his life is also being filled with meaning and love. He now has someone to care about and by the end of the novel he decides to leave his affairs and spend all his time with Tereza and make her happy. Tomas also feels heavier from the weight of possible mistakes he may have done, such as not sending away Tereza. His decision of not signing the documents about his article is also heavy because he is not sure what would...