The Unbearable Lightness of Being | Study Guide

Milan Kundera

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being | Characters

Character Description
Tomas Tomas is a Czech surgeon who is later forced to resign and become a window washer because of a political essay he wrote. He is married to Tereza but engages in many affairs with other women, including Sabina. Read More
Tereza Tereza is from a small town outside Prague and comes to Tomas to escape her mother. After marrying Tomas, she becomes a photographer, but she later gives it up. Read More
Sabina Sabina is a Czech artist who is fiercely individualistic. She has affairs with both Tomas and Franz and befriends Tereza. Read More
Franz Franz is a Swiss professor living in Geneva. He has an affair with Sabina that he later confesses to his wife. Read More
American actress The American actress goes on the protest march to Cambodia. She insists on attention because it is her job as "a star."
American photographer The American photographer goes on the protest march to Cambodia. He is killed by a land mine while trying to get a photo of the American actress.
Big-chinned editor The big-chinned editor worked at the newspaper to which Tomas submitted his thoughts on Oedipus. After Tomas falsely denounces him, the editor asks Tomas to sign a petition.
Chief surgeon The chief surgeon is Tomas's boss at the hospital in Prague. He is forced to fire Tomas because he refuses to retract his article on Oedipus.
Collective chairman The collective chairman is a former patient of Tomas's. When Tomas and Tereza move to the collective, the chairman becomes their best friend.
The engineer The engineer flirts with Tereza and invites her to his apartment. They have an affair, and he never contacts her again. This makes Tereza paranoid that he was sent by the secret police.
Marie-Anne Marie-Anne is Franz's daughter. She is described as being exactly like her mother, Marie-Claude.
Marie-Claude Marie-Claude is Franz's wife. She refuses to grant Franz a divorce after his infidelity. She eventually becomes his caretaker when he returns paralyzed from Cambodia, and triumphantly plays the grieving widow when he dies.
Minster of the Interior The Minister of the Interior interrogates Tomas. This results in Tomas quitting medicine altogether and becoming a window washer.
Sabina's father Sabina's father is a "small-town puritan" and artist who disapproved of her dating a boy at age 14. When he makes fun of Picasso, Sabina decides to love cubism to spite him.
Simon Simon is Tomas's son from his first marriage. They have no contact until late in Tomas's life.
Stork-giraffe woman The stork-giraffe woman is one of Tomas's many lovers while he is a window washer.
The student-mistress Franz takes a student-mistress after Sabina leaves him and Marie-Claude asks him to move out.
Tereza's father Tereza's father was so despondent after Tereza's mother left him that he spoke out against the communist government. He died behind bars.
Tereza's mother Tereza's mother is the main antagonist in her past. Once beautiful, Tereza's mother reveled in her ugliness and enjoyed shaming Tereza.
Tereza's stepfather Tereza's stepfather is a swindler. He also enjoyed shaming Tereza.
Zurich hospital boss Tomas's boss in Zurich is the reason Tomas emigrates to Switzerland. When Tomas feels he has to return to Tereza in Prague, he tells his boss, "It must be," and his boss agrees.
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