Women And Women In Milan Kundera's The Joke

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Though Milan Kundera makes a lot of social and political commentary in his novels, he also spends a lot of time focusing on relationships between his characters. More often than not, one of the main characters is a man that ends up taking advantage of women, whether he is aware of this or not. This theme is prominent in his 1967 novel The Joke, his 1984 novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and a story from his 1969 short story collection “The Hitchhiking Game.” A lot of Kundera’s writings portray both sexes in a negative light, typically with the male being dominant and almost harmful while the women are submissive and accepting of the hurt the men provide them with. Many of Milan Kundera’s works seem to have a similar trope, men taking advantage of women, either mentally or physically. In his 1967 novel The Joke, Milan Kundera’s main character, Ludvik, is established to be a womanizer willing to use a woman and ruin a marriage to get revenge. Years after being expelled from his university and party for a joke sent in a letter, Ludvik develops a revenge plan against his former friend Pavel, who was responsible for his expulsion. He begins to sleep with Pavel’s wife, who in turn falls in love with him. After his plan is executed, Ludvik comes to the realization that he didn’t get revenge on Pavel, rather he helped him get out of an unwanted marriage. However, Ludvik’s turbulent relationships with women did not begin with Helena. Rather, in the novel, it began with

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