Buddenbrooks Quotes


“Death was a blessing, so great, so deep that we can fathom it only at those moments, like this one now, when we are reprieved from it. It was the return home from long, unspeakably painful wanderings, the correction of a great error, the loosening of tormenting chains, the removal of barriers---it set a horrible accident to rights again.”


Even though the book which describes the whole family with three generations is filled with deaths, the author rarely comes to this topic very profoundly; he just mentions the death of that or this member of the family. But when it comes up to the death of Mrs. Buddenbrooks, Thomas’s mother, the description is very vivid; both her illness and then death are depicted in details, as well as the funeral and mournings of relatives. Whole 2 chapters are devoted to this. Along with the descriptions philosophical reflections are given, ans later before Thomas’s death the author comes to these reflections even more deeply. Seems that along with the growing up and decline of the family as a whole, the author himself becomes more sophisticated in ideas like life and death, decline and success. He is developing himself through the story, and his wit words are always proper to the occasion.

“The Ladies Buddenbrook from Breite Strasse did not weep, however - it was not their custom. Their faces, a little less caustic than usual at least, expressed a gentle satisfaction at death's impartiality.”


The Ladies Buddenbrook from Breite Strasse are this sort of people who can do nothing but live the others people’s lives. They are narrow-minded and heartless, they are deprived of feelings like sympathy, all they can do just condemn and gloat. And even at the funeral they throw no tears, and express no sympathy.

“Often, the outward and visible material signs and symbols of happiness and success only show themselves when the process of decline has already set in. The outer manifestations take time - like the light of that star up there, which may in reality be already quenched, when it looks to us to be shining its brightest.”


Thomas has felt already that the best times of the family has become bygone, and no success has been left for the future. The family has already had its greatest days. Nobody sees it yet, only he, and it makes him very unhappy and misery. He cannot share his apprehensions with anyone, as strangers would only gloat, and closest would not believe and try to cheer him up. So he has this burden all for himself.

“He was empty within. There was no stimulus, no absorbing task into which he could throw himself. But his nervous activity, his inability to be quiet,.........had indeed taken the upper hand and become his master. It was something artificial, a pressure on the nerves, a depressant, in fact......This craving for activity had become a martyrdom, but it was dissipated in a host of trivialities.”


Thomas Buddenbrooks has been exhausted by the way of live he has led, and there was no opportunity for him to cease act as he has used to. All his apprehensions, fears and doubts laid a great weight over his shoulders which he had non strength to carry on. All his life became artificial.

“His games have a deeper meaning and fascination that adults can no longer fathom and require nothing more than three pebbles, or a piece of wood with a dandelion helmet, perhaps; but above all they require only the pure, strong, passionate, chaste, still-untroubled fantasy of those happy years when life still hesitates to touch us, when neither duty nor guilt dares lay a hand upon us, when we are allowed to see, hear, laugh, wonder, and dream without the world's demanding anything in return, when the impatience of those whom we want so much to love has not yet begun to torment us for evidence, some early token, that we will diligently fulfill our duties. Ah, it will not be long, and all that will rain down upon us in overwhelming, raw power, will assault us, stretch us, cramp us, drill us, corrupt us.”


Little Janno enjoyed his childhood days with great pleasure; he used to play on the balcony, and did not even suspected that life could differ from the one he imagined. No burden has been laid yet on him, and he enjoyed it with childish spontaneity and simplicity. Mature live brings only pain, fear and disillusions. But fate has decided that Janno should not experience all this, and he died in his teens.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.