The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Differentiating Sex and Love During the Prague Spring

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, the inquisitive Tereza ponders what makes her unique. While staring at herself in a mirror she wonders if changing her physical features can affect who she is on the inside; whether her exterior shell affects her emotional and mental state. Kundera allows his characters to explore the finer points of 'self' and 'being' by peppering his novel with reflective moments like the one with Tereza and the mirror.

Kundera never formally introduces his characters, and instead plunges the reader straight into the deep end of the plot, sidestepping the ladder completely. Without a physical description, the reader is forced to concoct a mental picture of his own, giving him some leeway to mold the characters. One is never concerned with the physical traits of the characters; reference is rarely made to their exterior appearances. Instead, the reader nose-dives into intimate thoughts of characters whom he barely know. The only common link between all four characters is sex, which permeates every encounter and is one of the best ways to distinguish between the groups.

Each of the four characters has a 'self'. It is purely external, something that can be experienced...

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