Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Duty,Pride, And Merit In Thomas Manns Buddenbrooks Essays

Duty,Pride, And Merit In Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks Ana Coleman October 11, 2001 History 225 Theories of Familial Duty in Thomas Manns Buddenbrooks The novel Buddenbrooks was written by Thomas Mann in 1901. He was born in 1875, soon after the unification of Germany. He wrote several books, short stories, and essays for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. With the advent of World War II, Mann left Germany and lived the rest of his life in San Diego until his death in 1955. Manns novel, Buddenbrooks takes place in Lubeck, (Northern Germany) from 1835 until roughly 1875-76. The novel opens with the Buddenbrook family having a dinner party. It is a sort of housewarming party for the Buddenbrooks who have recently moved to one of the biggest homes in the town after the previous owners, the Rastekamps, are forced to sell and leave the town after their firm fails. We learn that the Buddenbrook family is one of the most powerful merchant families in the town, enjoying its height of wealth and prestige. We are introduced to Johann Buddenbrooks, the patriarch of the family, but soon see that it is Jean, his son, that is truly in control of the familys affaires. In the very first part of the book it is evident that the decline of the family is already beginning when Johnanns first son, Gotthold, (from his first marriage) sends three letters demanding a larger share of the family business. Gotthold has married below his station, sent away with his inheritance, an d ignored by the family. As the book continues, we learn that the primary characters are really Jeans children, Tony, the oldest child, and Thomas, the middle son. The third son, Christian, manages to bring only embarrassment and loss of money to the Buddenbrooks family. Clare, the youngest daughter is hardly mentioned; she is a pious, serious girl who marries a pastor. The novel spans four generations, but most of the action follows the lives of Thomas and Tony Buddenbrook, the third generation. Tony Buddenbrook grows up a very privileged and pretty girl. At the age of 18 or so, a businessman named Grunlich asks for Tonys hand in marriage. Tony becomes so depressed at the idea of marrying Grunlich that her parents send her on a vacation to the Baltic Sea. She meets a young medical student named Morton Schwarzkopf. They fall in love with each other, and it is because of Morten that Tony begins to see and understand the social class system; to see why people want to change the status quo, and that sometimes people need to sacrifice themselves for a higher cause. Tony returns home speaks to her father, looks in the family Bible at the significant events in the Buddenbrooks family history, and realizes that she must marry Grunlich out of duty to her family. Tony marries Grunlich, a few years pass, Tony has a daughter named Erika, and then the walls begin to collapse around her. It is discovered that Grunlich has made his money by actually borrowing money on the credit of the Buddenbrook familys reputation. Tony leaves her dishonest and bankrupt husband, divorces him, and moves back home with her family. Thomas, the second son, follows in his fathers footsteps, taking over the Buddenbrook firm and reinvigorating it with his youthful ambition and ideas. The Buddenbrook family is still regal and respected. Thomas marries well, Gerda Arnoldson, a childhood schoolmate of Tonys, and is soon made both a consul and a Senator. With this new power and prestige comes more r esponsibility and anxiety. Tony marries again, this time an older man from Munich, but this marriage too, ends in divorce after Herr Permaneder retires on Tonys dowry, and is then caught in a liaison with the maid. Things for the Buddenbrook family look up when Thomas and Gerda have a son, Hanno, named after his great-grandfather. As the only heir to the Buddenbrook name and fortune many hopes and expectations are forced upon him. Erika Grunlich (Tonys daughter) faces a similar marital fate as her mother. She marries a man named Hugo Weinschenk, has a daughter, and then her marriage too falls apart after Weinschenk is convicted and incarcerated for insurance

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