Symbolism In The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

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Throughout the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera, the black bowler hat is a reappearing object. This object consists of various meanings and is representative of many themes that appear within the story. Three vastly different elements are represented by this one object and that is one of the reasons why this hat is so important, especially because each time it reappears it holds a different meaning. This one physical object is representative of Sabina’s secret desire for sexual humiliation, her individuality, and the theory of eternal return. Sexual humiliation comes up a few times in the novel involving both Tereza and Sabina. In Sabina’s case, the bowler hat is important in terms of her secret desire to be degraded by the men in which she sleeps with. “The lingerie enhanced the charm of her femininity, while the hard masculine hat denied it, violated and ridiculed it. The fact that Tomas stood beside her fully dressed meant that the essence of what they both saw was far from good clean fun ... it was…show more content…
The idea of eternal return is that the universe and all its energy has been recurring and will continue to recur over an infinite amount of time and across infinite amounts of time and space. The bowler hat is very symbolic of the idea of eternal return because it is a physical object that keeps reappearing throughout the novel and every time that it appears again it has a different meaning. “The bowler hat was a motif in the musical composition that was Sabina's life. It returned again and again, each time with a different meaning, and all the meanings flowed through the bowler hat like water through a riverbed. I might call it Heraclitus' ("You can't step twice into the same river") (Page 88) With so many things happening in Sabinas life with Tomas, Franz, and even her own family, every situation that the hat appears in, it is holding a different
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