• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Sex and Love in the Sorrow of War and the Unbearable Lightness of Being

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

In what manner and to what purpose are love and sex presented as discrete in Ninh's The Sorrow of War and Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It is rare to find two such dissimilar entities so irrevocably entwined. Sacred, fragile and emotional, love inhabits a higher plane, while carnal activity is rough, dirty and basic. The steps taken to distance ourselves from our simian cousins and amoebic forefathers seem altogether futile when potential sexual activity can still reduce us as a species to primitive cavemen hell-bent on procreation. However, by connecting the two in our concept of marriage, we are able to elevate this nasty pleasantry to love's higher plane. Nonetheless, in moving towards secular society, giving into temptation or consciously desecrating moral codes of old, the fragile trial separation of intimacy and sex increasingly coagulates. It is perhaps no coincidence that Bao Ninh's the Sorrow of War and Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, both having been published in the last fifty years, present this separation. However, while Kundera seems content to describe without prejudice, Ninh's presentation of this separation shows fundamental moral disapproval, indicating the vital disparity that characterises the two texts. ...read more.

Middle

Tomas's lust for carnal knowledge, however, can easily fuel a display of loveless sex. As a scientist, his constant need for specifics and knowledge manifests itself in his spare time as his erotic friendships, giving him a key to understanding varied sexual response. Governed by rules, these affairs lack the capacity to develop any degree of love, for the battle is gratification and the war is knowledge. To win these both requires a merely physical connection and 'stipulates that he should exclude all love from his life'. Tomas is able to continue in this manner for years without undue stress, until such point as he meets Tereza. From this point, he can no longer view his mistresses equally as Tereza triumphs over them all. All his mistresses therefore 'become ripe for insurrection.' Immediately, this loveless sex begins to crumble. Being neither an oversensitive man nor a romantic idealist, his propensity toward independent thought leaves him largely unable to take seriously the laws of romantic fidelity. Why should he eventually give up these sexual misadventures? It is perhaps a comment on the nature of the relationship between sex and love that, despite consciously thinking 'attaching love to sex [to be] one of the most bizarre ideas the Creator ever had,' he eventually succeeds in doing so as he grows to understand Tereza's point of view. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although the circumstances are different and Tomas and Tereza do not have to contest with the brutalities of war, the themes across the texts are not dissimilar. Both authors present a vision of sexual connection and sanctified love and compare and contrast the two. As all four relationships are forced to change, preventing them from continuing the separation, we see that Kundera and Ninh are in agreement that it is, if not impossible, certainly a challenging prospect, to separate the two. The major difference here comes from the authorial comment. While Kundera seems content to observe Tomas' philandering and Tereza's rhapsodising, Ninh's presentation is tinged with disapproval. We should note, thus, the circumstances that provoke the end. For Ninh, both relationships are unshakeably doomed, simply because he believes it to be necessary that love and sex should be co-dependent. Kundera however indicates that while love and sex can be discrete, it is impossible to have both without some confrontation. For harmony to be restored, a change must be made. The texts are written in different continents, decades and conditions, yet this acknowledgement that physical intimacy and romantic love cannot be separated creates links between the two texts, as the two writers nod to one another in accepting that, modern amorality forgotten , resistance is futile. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    When Hana and Caravaggio get back to the house, the English patient sees Caravaggio and is stunned. Hana decides to play the old piano in the library. Outside, it is pouring rain, and two soldiers slip into the library, at first unnoticed by Hana.

  2. Chance, Accident and Coincidence in The Mayor of Casterbridge

    It is ridiculed that Henchard "might gamble upon the square green areas of fields as readily as upon those of a card-room." The plan to succeed by depending on such forecast, uncertain and fallible is too risky for a man like Henchard, with an established company of his own, to

  1. Compare and contrast the writers presentation of the consequences of obsessive love in: Othello, ...

    He compares Desdemona's 'whiter skin of hers' than snow. By his calmness the audience realises that he's figured out what to do, rather than before where he didn't know what to do and was therefore in an emotional state, Othello says he 'would not kill thy unprepared spirit', he does

  2. Compare and contrast the presentation of sex and sexuality in The Color Purple by ...

    In letter 24 Celie "feel like [she's] praying" as she washes Shug. Walker uses this simile to equate washing Shug with praying to reveal Celie's devotion to Shug. Walker also uses a simile to emphasise Jeanette's love for Melanie as "[Melanie] stroked my head for a long time, and then we hugged and it felt like drowning".

  1. ‘The Love Song Of J. Alfred. Prufrock’ by T.S Eliot and ‘My Last ...

    He thinks that if it reveals that her behaviour is bothering him, he is stooping and allowing his pride to slip. He does not dare say to her, `or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark.'

  2. Wuthering Heights Setting

    When Catherine marries Edgar Linton and moves over to the Grange, she is at first contented to be pampered and spoiled. Her every need is taken care of. Later, when she is confronted by Heathcliff, she is reminded of Wuthering Heights and begins to miss the place she once was so eager to leave.

  1. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a film set in 1968 Prague, is a story ...

    Sabina, in contrast, represents extreme lightness of being. Faced with the ugliness and kitsch early in life, from her father's repressive masculine home to the oppressive art styles pressed at her art school, Sabina declares war on the ugly and unoriginal through her paintings and lifestyle. The love affair Tomas and Sabina share is due to their mutual lightness.

  2. Compare and contrast the presentation of the villain in Othello, Wuthering Heights and The ...

    Iago is the villain here as he is able to twist the mind of Othello using only his language. The deception by Iago is similar to the character Clegg in ?The Collecter?. Clegg tells Miranda he will get her a doctor, ?[I] told her I would never not get a

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work