Buddenbrooks: The Declining Family Life

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Buddenbrooks Paper
Ashley Law
Dr. Melton “Modern Germany Class”

The book Buddenbrooks describes the life, conquests, and eventual demise of one family and their relatives whether by marriage or blood in Germany. Thomas Mann, the book’s author, bases some of the stories plot on his own experiences growing up which adds to the legitimacy of the novel as not just being a fictional story. Every generation suffers from a modern vs. traditional conflict that can easily cause families to fall apart for more simple reasons than the cause of the Buddenbrook family’s decline. There are repetitive themes as is discussed in our outline to write our paper, such as religion, regional customs, and attachments. However, the clearest repetitive theme that anyone can point a finger as the reason for the decline of the family is “class”. You could argue that religion had an indirect effect on the family, with the death of Johann Buddenbrook, which for purposes of this paper I will call “Consul”. The religious references gradually ceased to exist in the book after the Consul’s death, as did the family’s prestige and inner-relationships. However, even though there are other important themes in this book, I will concentrate on class and how it is reflected in the book and the role it played in the demise of the family. The Buddenbrook family has been classified in comparison to real families of Europe at that time as upper-middle class, which meant they were not of nobility but they were a family that had what they needed but not quite everything they wanted. “Tom” the Consul’s eldest son is presented in the book as being the successor for the Buddenbrook family way before his actual succession. Christian the youngest son is seen as being more aloof and free-spirited in his actions in regards to the family, which helps a first time reader classify him as not taking a huge part later in the families’ future, if not for the reasons you would originally expect. Antonie “Tony”...
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