The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by

Milan Kundera

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Marie-Claude Character Analysis

Franz’s wife and Marie-Anne’s mother. Marie-Claude owns an art gallery, and she and Franz have a loveless marriage. Franz believes that Marie-Claude is weak, and that she can’t live without him, but this proves untrue after Franz tells her about his affair with Sabina and Marie-Claude kicks him out. Even though Marie-Claude is not in love with Franz, she will not consent to a divorce, a play to power which keeps her in control over him. Franz is assaulted in Bangkok after the Grand March, and Marie-Claude convincingly plays the role of grieving wife, even sitting next to Franz’s bed as he dies. Franz is unable to speak in his final days, and he keeps looking at Marie-Claude, who is certain that his eyes are asking her forgiveness. She forgives Franz and continues the role of the grieving wife at his funeral, where Franz’s girlfriend sits in the back and cries. It is likely that Franz was not seeking Marie-Claude’s forgiveness in his final days and that his stare was more indicative of hate or disgust. Still, Marie-Claude ignores this, as do all the people at Franz’s funeral, who all know that Franz and Marie-Claude’s marriage was over. This willful disregard for the truth is yet another example of kitsch, which Kundera argues cannot be escaped.

Marie-Claude Quotes in The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The The Unbearable Lightness of Being quotes below are all either spoken by Marie-Claude or refer to Marie-Claude. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of The Unbearable Lightness of Being published in 2009.
Part 6, Chapter 29 Quotes

What remains of the dying population of Cambodia?

One large photograph of an American actress holding an Asian child in her arms.

What remains of Tomas?

An inscription reading HE WANTED THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH

What remains of Beethoven?

A frown, an improbably man, and a somber voice intoning “Es muss sein!

What remains of Franz?

An inscription reading A RETURN AFTER LONG WANDERINGS.

And so on and so forth. Before we are forgotten, we will be turned into kitsch. Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.

Page Number: 277-8
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Unbearable Lightness of Being PDF

Marie-Claude Character Timeline in The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The timeline below shows where the character Marie-Claude appears in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3, Chapter 1
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
...never has sex with Sabina in Geneva, the city where he lives with his wife, Marie-Claude. To do so would insult both Sabina and Marie-Claude, Franz believes, so he only has... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
...all women can be called “a woman,” and Sabina wonders if he considers his wife, Marie-Claude, a woman. Franz isn’t in love with Marie-Claude, but she loves him, and since he... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
Lightness, Weight, and Dichotomies  Theme Icon
Franz paces his apartment in anticipation as his wife, Marie-Claude, entertains her guests. She is throwing a party for the painters and sculptors who have... (full context)
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
As Sabina enters, Marie-Claude immediately approaches her. Marie-Claude grabs the pendant from Sabina’s neck and inspects it. “How ugly!”... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
Lightness, Weight, and Dichotomies  Theme Icon
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
...Franz, however, “living in truth” means living publically, which is why he decides to tell Marie-Claude about his affair. After telling Marie-Claude all about Sabina and their affair, Franz meets Sabina... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 9
Words and Language Theme Icon
For years, Franz has seen Marie-Claude as weak, and when he returns home from Rome, he expects to find her a... (full context)
Sex, Love, and Duality of Body and Soul Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
...one of his students. He is as happy as he can be without Sabina, but Marie-Claude refuses to consent to a divorce. Marie-Claude thinks that “love is a battle,” and she... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 23
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
...German pop star, require infinite eyes looking at them. The second group—to which Franz’s wife, Marie-Claude, and his daughter, Marie-Anne, belong—need to be looked at by many familiar eyes, like at... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 26
Time, Happiness, and Eternal Return Theme Icon
Lightness, Weight, and Dichotomies  Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
...the head and collapses. Franz wakes up sometime later at a hospital in Geneva with Marie-Claude by his side. Within days, he is dead. (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 27
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
Marie-Claude takes great pride in handling Franz’s burial. At the funeral, the pastor talks at length... (full context)
Part 6, Chapter 28
Power, Politics, and Inequality Theme Icon
...believes he has the right to express the life of his father however he likes.  Marie-Claude has the following words engraved on Franz’s gravestone: “A RETURN AFTER LONG WANDERINGS.” During Franz’s... (full context)