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The Unbearable Lightness, The Dancer Upstairs, The Coast of Utopia


silkflowers 2 / 1  
May 8, 2007   #1
Here is another paper I am working on. Thank you in advance for you assistance. This is what I have so far.

Three of the works we have considered this semester are The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, The Dancer Upstairs by Nicholas Shakespeare and The Coast of Utopia by Tom Stoppard. I will compare and contrast the major theses and points of interest in each of these works.

In the novel the unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kindera, the major theme is Lightness and Weight. Lightness and weight are linked to the philosophy of life and the major characters in the book. The Ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides argues that lightness is positive and weight is negative. He believes that to accept lightness is to accept that the meaning of life is living for momentary beauty. Those who accept lightness are not likely to ally themselves to any political parties. However Nietzsche's idea of eternal return is classified as the heaviest of burden and since eternal return dictates that all things in existence recurs over and over again for eternity; then human history is a present circle without continuity or progress. Our existence is thus weight because if life was to recur over and again we would be nailed to eternity as "Jesus Christ" was nailed to the cross. Nietzsche believes that if this were not true then the absence of burden would cause is to be lighter than air and we would be only half real. Something that does not recur forever has only a brief existence. The heavier our burden the closer our lives come to the earth and the for real and truthful we become. Kundera however, does not believe in eternal return, he believes that we can only choose one path. The question is which path doe we choose lightness or weight?

The two major characters in the novel that represents lightness are Tomas and Sabina. Sabina is an artist who paints with the same passion as she makes love. She does not believe in domesticity or nationalism and refuses to conform to any social rules. She is sexually inhibited and believes that betrayal is the greatest form of freedom. Thus she feels no guilt for her love affair with Tomas or Franz. She is very comfortable with her body and very intrigued with the body of others. Sabina's lightness allows her to travel from place without conviction or the sense of desertion. Tomas is also one of the lightest characters in the book. He is not a romantic idealist and refuses to accept the law on which politics and romantic infidelity are based. He considers love and sex unrelated entities, therefore he is able to sleep with numerous amounts of women while maintaining without guilt or remorse of his promiscuity. Tomas' lightness also allows him to leave his work at the hospital; and his son in order to maintain his freedom. Tomas and Sabina's affair is based on mutual lightness. There is no domesticity or romance in their relationship instead the two share sexual euphoria. While Sabina continues to choose freedom and total lightness by moving away from the heaviness that surrounds her, Tomas essentially gives in to the burden of Tereza's love and finally acquires weight.

Tereza and Franz are the two heaviest characters in the Unbearable Lightness of Being. Tereza is caring and reading a heavy book when she first meet Tomas and when she decided that she would give herself over to Tomas; she meets him with a heavy suitcase in which her entire life is packed. This represented the burden that Tereza was now placing on Tomas with the heaviness of her love. Tomas realizes that Tereza is a burden, but his compassion gets the best of him and he allows her to move in with him. She is also unable to cope with the lightness around her and is almost driven to insanity because of Tomas' extramarital affairs. Her fears of jealousy eventually plague her in the form of nightmares. She is uncomfortable in her own skin and dreams continuously of dead bodies floating around her or bodies being shot or buried. She is repulsed by her sexuality and the nakedness of her body; and constantly looks in the mirror trying to see her soul. Tereza is marked by sexual guilt when she has an affair with an engineer that came to her rescue in the bar where she worked. She wished that she could feel the lightness of her body to be able to differentiate love from sex like her husband Tomas does, but she fails to do so because of her heaviness.

Franz is also a heavy character and feels his life and career is a heavy burden. He chooses the soul which is heavy. He searches for the noble meaning of his individuality of soul over body. Franz is also plagued by his infidelity with Sabina and is unable to share his bed with two women at the same time. He ultimately leaves his wife for Sabina, who then leaves him because she doesn't want the burden that a monogamous relationship brings. His life is attached to importance, concepts and events, which leads him to accept and invitation to the Grand March on Cambodia. He felt that marches and parades was light and wanted to experience that lightness. Franz misinterpretation of Sabina's love for marches and parades stems from her being from Czechoslovakia. On the contrary Sabina hates marches and parades because they are organized. This misinterpretation leads Franz to his early death. Tereza's weight; which she ultimately emits to Tomas also leads to their death, while coming home from a night of dancing.

In the Novel the Dancer Upstairs, by Nicholas Shakespeare the three main characters that I associate with lightness and weight are Ezequiel, Agustin Rejas and Yolanda. Ezequiel who represents, Abmiel Guzman the notorious guerilla leader of the Sendero luminose "The Shining Path" Is a professor of philosophy. Ezequiel is a Marxist influenced anarchist who incites the oppressed Peruvians to join in his revolution against the fascist government in Peru. Ezequiel represents lightness because of the atrocities he is able to incite against the heads of states, the army and the innocent without guilt or remorse. He is like the anti-Christ who manipulates the weak and impoverished seeking lightness in their time of darkness. He indoctrinates and brainwash them promising them that he would make their lives better, guiding them from heaviness into lightness. He had animals and vehicles wired then sent into public places which cause injury, fatality and ciaos. He had the head of states, anyone that was believed to assist the army or anyone that spoke out against his cause executed or assassinated. Audience members at a show given at the theatre was brought on stage and executed. After each event, to hallmark the occasion, fireworks were set off in an ominous celebration of a complete act of tyranny. The light from the fire works is a representation of Ezequiels' lightness and the power he had as a result over the government. His freedom from guilt which also represented lightness and the lack of weight he felt led him to order father Roman executed. He made light of this religious figure and his religion by having the pages ripped from his bible and stuffing them in his mouth while ordering him to swallow them. When father Ramon passed out his head was chopped off his stomach cut open and his intestines pulled out making his body lighter so the remains of the pages could be stuff in. Even with this atrocious event Ezequiel managed to remain without guilt or burden, because he felt that he was enlightening the poverty stricken people of Peru.

Yolanda who is a dancer and dance teacher, as well as a follower of Ezequiel is also a light character. She is a humanist and an idealist, whose only concern is the welfare and dignity of mankind; and because of her passion she believes in Ezequiel's revolution. She is passionate about her dancing and raises money through dance classes for the revolution. When she dances it is a spiritual experience which allows her to be lighter than air; where she is able to transcend into whoever she desires to be. Her lightness allows her to give up the amenities of a comfortable life to fight for what she believes in with no regards for her personal needs.

Augustin Rejas on the other hand is heavy; he gave up his profession as a lawyer because he believed that being a lawyer was not doing justice to his people. He felt burdened to do what he thought was right for the people and not just for himself or his family. He is the prophet of reason, the representation of "Jesus Christ"; therefore he must bare the burden of the Peruvians as Jesus bore the burden of the world when he was crucified. Rejas is burdened with the safety of his family, Yolanda which he falls in love with and the public. He feels the weight of his responsibilities especially when he has to answer to his superior about the delay in the development of Ezequiel's capture. Rejas is also burdened with the weight of the death of father Ramos and the people in the village where he grew up. He feels somewhat responsible because he was not there to help and when he returned to the village to investigate Ezequiel's whereabouts he was actually blamed by some of the people for the loss of lives. Rejas remains mostly in the dark while conducting his surveillance of the building where he believed Ezequiel to be hiding. He also wanted to embrace the lightness that Ezequiel possessed and was somewhat jealous that Ezequiel was able to be so light and free to do as he pleases, while he had rules and regulations that restricted his freedom; therefore restricting his lightness. Even after the capture of Ezequiel, Rejas remained heavy. He leaked the information of the capture to the press so that the blood of Ezequiel would not weigh him down. He also remained in denial when he realized that the love of his life Yolanda was one of Ezequels' disciples. He rationalized that she did not understand what she was doing and she was manipulated by Ezequiels' teachings. He even asked for her sentence to be reduced even though Yolanda told him to stay out of her life and made it clear that Ezequiels' revolution will live on forever. Rejas continued to live his life with the weight of unhappiness.

In the book The Coast of Utopia, there are also several characters that represent lightness and weight. Belinsky is the heaviest character in the book, he believes that he must bear the weight of Russia's' absence of literature.

In conclusion, there are numerous similarities in the themes of the three works examined; such as lightness and weight, communism, oppression, racism, idealism, religion and fascism. The major themes and point of interesting my opinion was lightness and weight. I believe that because man can only try one path and there is no eternal return, then human life is characterized by unbearable lightness.

The space represents the rest of the essay that I have to do.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
May 9, 2007   #2
Greetings!

You've been working hard, and it shows! I have just a few editing suggestions:

since eternal return dictates that all things in existence recur over and over again for eternity, [not semicolon] then human history is a present circle without continuity or progress.

"Jesus Christ" - I'm not sure why you put it in quotation marks both times, but you don't need to.

The heavier our burden, [add comma] the closer our lives come to the earth and the [I think you must mean "more" instead of "for"] real and truthful we become.

The question is which path do we choose,[add comma] lightness or weight?

The two major characters in the novel that represent lightness

She is sexually inhibited - I haven't read the book, but she sounds uninhibited...?

Sabina's lightness allows her to travel from place without conviction - do you mean "place to place"?

he is able to sleep with numerous [delete "amounts of"] women [delete "while maintaining"] without guilt or remorse for his promiscuity.

There is no domesticity or romance in their relationship; [add semicolon] instead, [add comma] the two share sexual euphoria.

Tereza is caring [do you mean "carrying"?] and reading a heavy book when she first meets [add s] Tomas and when she decides that she will [not "would"] give herself over to Tomas, [comma, not semicolon] she meets him with a heavy suitcase in which her entire life is packed.

which leads him to accept an invitation to the Grand March on Cambodia. He felt that marches and parades were [not "was"] light

Tereza's weight, [use comma] which she ultimately emits to Tomas,[add comma] also leads to their deaths, while coming home from a night of dancing.

Ezequiel, [add comma] who represents [delete comma] Abmiel Guzman, [add comma] the notorious guerilla leader of the Sendero luminose ("The Shining Path"), [add parentheses and comma] is a professor of philosophy.

He indoctrinates and brainwashes them, [add comma] promising them

cause injury, fatality and ciaos.- "ciao" is Italian for "good-bye." I think you mean "chaos."

Audience members at a show given at the theatre were [not "was"] brought on stage and executed.

Yolanda which he falls in love with - say "Yolanda, with whom he falls in love"

The major themes and point of interesting my opinion - not sure what this means; maybe got garbled when you were cutting and pasting?

Keep up the good work!

Thanks,

Sarah, EssayForum.com


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