ex is ten tial ism - A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.
This word has been used when describing Milan Kundera's style of writing. The term existentialism came from Jean Paul Sartre, a French philosopher. Existentialism emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. The philosophy focuses on the existence of man. Sartre believed that to be a true existentialist one must accept that there is no God therefore man is alone with only himself to rely on for all decisions. This gives man total freedom of choice. However with this total freedom comes the responsibility of knowing one must choose wisely.
Kundera applies this philosophy to his characters in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". He shows us how the four lovers choices affect their lives. Will the characters choose lightness or weight?
After seven years of living with the heaviness" of Tereza, Tomas thinks he will enjoy "the sweet lightness of being" (Kundera P 30) when she leaves him. However, he soon realizes that the lightness of her absence is swiftly replaced by the heaviness of her absence.
Franz on the other hand leaves his wife for Sabina, but when Sabina rejects him and his wife will not take him back Franz finds that he enjoys the lightness of his life. Tomas wished to be free but found it was not what he wanted at all. Franz who wished to be tied reveled in his freedom. "At last he ceased to be a little boy; for the first time in his life he was on his own." (Kundera p120)
Sabina did not want to be Mari-Claude. She did not want to share a marriage bed with Franz, but when she left him her lightness was not joy, it was emptiness. " What fell to her lot was not the burden [heaviness] but the unbearable lightness of being." (Kundera P 122)
When Tereza has...
Cited: Milan Kundera: Meaning, Play, and the Role of the Author - O 'Brien, John
The Columbia Encyclopedia
Introduction to Existentialism - Grene, Marjorie
The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Kundera, Milan
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