Buddenbrooks Literary Elements

Buddenbrooks Literary Elements


A novel

Setting and Context

It is Germany, middle of the 18th century

Narrator and Point of View

It is third-person narration

Tone and Mood

Tone differs from time to time; from great and lofty it changes into sad and stressed, and this change come along with the decline of the family, its beliefs, values and principals.

Protagonist and Antagonist

It is difficult to name protagonist and antagonist of the story, as there are so many characters; however, Thomas could be called a protagonist, as he always stands for what is moral and right, and his brother Christian could be considered an antagonist, as he brings nothing but pain and disappointments to the family

Major Conflict

Major conflict stands in efforts made to glorify the family and firm, but these efforts do not bring desired goals, and mostly because the time changes, society changes and Buddenbrooks family continues living by laws and principals established long time ago


The climax comes when Thomas becomes a senator, it is the highest point of the family success, but right after it the decline becomes more vivid and quick


When the Buddenbrooks have bought the new house, they arrange a dinner party to celebrate the occasion. At the table the theme of former owners was discussed: how that family was honorable and reputable, but later they became bankrupt and were forced to leave the house. This story stands as a foreshadowing for the Buddenbrooks to have the same fate.


What is mostly suppressed is the expression of the characters’ feelings and emotions; even when their heart are in indignation they do not show it, their behavior continues to be perfect. And it is their trouble – they keep too much in themselves


The book alludes to many historic events, economis crises and wars of that time; also it alludes to Napoleon, Lope de Vega and other famous people


Imagery is mostly used to depict greatness and wealthy furniture of the houses, gardens; also very often nature descriptions are provided with the aim of a background to the most important events – when something bad is about to happen it always rains


Paradoxical is that even family members put so much efforts family business does not develops, it has reached its pick



Metonymy and Synecdoche

“Gold-yellowish whiskers” – that’s how Toni calls Mr. Grunlich – her future husbands. She always refers to him with this name, because of the colour of his whiskers. (Metonymy)
“Municipal duma has essambled to discuss ergent things” – in meanming that people in authority have essembled (Synechdoche)
“Senate has spoken for…” – ministers in the senate have spoken (Synechdoche)



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