Thursday, August 20, 2015
Censorship in The Unbearable Lightness
I think the role that censorship plays in The Unbearable Lightness of Being is really interesting. The reader can understand censorship in two different ways through the characters of Tomas and Sabina. Tomas does not want to compromise just because of the rules of regime. He refuses to sign a statement in which he is asked to renounce what he had said in his article. He is proud of his publication and does not want the communists to gain the satisfaction of a "victory" over him. Later on, when he refuses to sign the petition, it is not because he no longer supports the cause, but because he wants to protect Tereza. Sabina takes a more indirect approach on her "rebellion." (Not that either one of them necessarily rebel against the regime, but they both have the motivation to refuse conformity to ideals they do not believe in). Sabina, rather than openly displaying her thoughts like Tomas, disguises them underneath what the communists would want to see (a sort of "Soviet propaganda" like in the films of the Stalinist era). Although both of these characters stand up for their own beliefs in different ways, they both represent Czech society in times of censorship. As we learned today about film and literature, authors and directors employed samizdat writing and complex subject matters in film in order to strategically avoid censorship laws. The rest of the population advocated for these sorts of freedom of expression and supported writers, directors, artists, and anyone else who could voice such views. And so, Tomas and Sabina, through their two different ways of approaching censorship restrictions, represent the entire community who desire to live in freedom and not be held back by the overwhelming presence of communist values.