What the reader understands of the infidelity of Milan Kundera's characters in The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a mere distraction from the real substance of the story and of the character's real purpose. Kundera offers the reader a red herring and only through close examination can one dissect and abstract the true essence of each character's thread that links them to one another in this story. For it is not clearly seen: in fact, it can not be seen at all. It is the fierce absence of the word commitment that is so blatantly seen in each individual, yet the word itself is buried so deeply inside of Tomas and Tereza that it takes an animal's steadfast and unconditional love to make the meaning and understanding of commitment penetrate the surface.
Tomas and Tereza's marriage was fragile and based on Tomas's sympathy for his wife's irrevocable urge to fully complete him, mentally and physically. In this Tomas did only what he could do; go from woman to woman while carrying the scent of female genitalia with him. Tereza carried her grief and regret in solitude yet she remained undaunted by an unexplainable force. Their dog Karenin seemed to be the only connection the couple shared. This animal gave them earnest trust and in return they committed their love. "It is a completely selfless love," Kundera writes, " Tereza did not want anything of Karenin; she did not ever ask him to love her back" (297); this love came easier to Tereza and was far less complicated than her love for Tomas. "Her feeling was rather that, given the nature of the human couple, the love of man and woman is a priori inferior to that which can exist (at least in the best instances) in the love between man and dog, that oddity of human history probably unplanned by the creator" (297). Tereza knew as the dog lay dying that the reason why she snuggled so close to Karenin was her commitment. That same commitment was the reason why she still slept next to... [continues]
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