This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Theme Of War Guilt In Bernard Schlink's, "The Reader".

732 words - 3 pages

The Reader Bernhard Schlink ThemesWar GuiltOne of the main ideas in The Reader is German war guilt - guilt felt by both the war-time generation and the post-war generation. The post-war generation, to which the author, Schlink, belongs, has struggled to come to terms with the war crimes committed by the previous generation. The novel begins with a sick Michael being comforted by the maternal Hanna. This is an obvious symbol for the idea that the post-war generation needs to confront the deeds of its predecessor before it can be free of a sense of collective guilt. The novel is clearly an allegory for the collective guilt of ordinary Germans.Guilt is portrayed in the novel by a sense of numbness and isolation. Michael, along with the others at the trial, is numbed by the evils committed in his country's name. This numbness is a symbol of the way ordinary Germans try to distance themselves from the 'monsters' who could commit such acts. After the trial, Michael suffers a fever and then is free of his numbness; this shows that confronting the past (as the trial did) is healthy for Germany.A by-product of guilt is blame, and finding someone to blame is a way of lessening the pain of guilt. Hanna's crimes and the ensuing trial expose the role of ordinary Germans in the Holocaust. Hanna deals with her guilt - she was part of a group of guards who refused to unlock a burning church, causing the deaths of many prisoners - by blaming her orders: "we had to guard them and not let them escape." Many war-time Germans blamed orders, politicians, mob mentality and ignorance. Similarly, Michael's generation blame their parents to escape any guilt: "We all condemned our parents to shame, even if the only charge we could bring was that after 1945 they had tolerated the perpetrators in their midst." Schlink obviously feels that those involved with the war have to face their complicity in the Holocaust before they can move on as a nation. Similarly, the post-war generation have to realise that the German society that gives them such a...

Find Another Essay On The theme of war guilt in Bernard Schlink's, "The Reader".

"The Reader", by Bernhard Schlink : Guilt and Shame

1054 words - 4 pages "The Reader", by Bernhard Schlink is set in postwar Germany and tells the story of fifteen-year-old Michael Berg and his affair with a woman named Hanna, who was twice his age. After some time, she disappears. When Michael next sees Hanna, he is a young law student and she is on trial for her work in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Their feelings of guilt and shame lead to Hanna's tragic death near the end of the story. Bernhard Schlink is

How does Duffy’s treatment of themes of war and death involve the reader in the poem ‘war photographer’?

1000 words - 4 pages us realise how privileged we are compared to other people’s lives. The contrast makes us aware that our lives are better than other people and makes us feel lucky. This creates guilt as our life is so easy and luxurious compared to other people’s lives in war zones. The use of imagery is vital throughout the poem as it helps to make us realise the horrors of war. ‘Fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of running children in a

The Effect of Guilt

703 words - 3 pages strong-willed woman by the end of the novel. In the case of Hester, a colonist, guilt transforms her into an angel to society. However, in the beginning, she commits the crime of adultery: Hester has her daughter, Pearl, without a husband. Sin alert! Not on the Puritans’ watch! Hester is then forced to wear a scarlet letter A to show her guilt, and all of the colonists know about her guilty act. Even though Hester is ostracized by the community

THE GUILT OF UNCERTAINTY

1267 words - 5 pages heretofore been sleeping with. At this point, it seems as if Josef is finally ready to face the reality of his trial and get it over with. He soon lapses into a depressive obsession, however, after determining to draw up a petition of everything he's ever done to prove that he must be innocent. In this part of the story, Josef begins on the right path by trying to face his guilt himself, and he even sets about starting to interrogate himself

"The Scarlet Letter" - Thesis on the theme of Sin and Guilt

1775 words - 7 pages One main theme present in the work "The Scarlet Lette" is that of sin and guilt. Nathaniel Hawthorne attempts to show how guilt can be a form of everlasting punishment. The book represents sin and guilt through symbolism and character development. In his novel, "The Scarlet Letter", Nathaniel Hawthorne explains how the punishment of guilt causes the most suffering among those affected.As with any piece, symbolism plays an important role in

Theme of guilt in Hamlet and Fifth Business

1521 words - 7 pages that of Boy because he has a reason for the guilty actions – avenging his father’s murder. Considering Hamlet’s point of view, it can be expected for him to behave the way he did, knowing that Claudius is the murderer. Guilt resides in the heart of the play. Boy and Hamlet too are different from each other, as seen in the two texts. The theme of guilt, as perceived by readers and felt by the characters is demonstrated by both Davies and

How Remarque presents the Reader with the Brutality of War in his Novel "All Quiet on the Western Front"

1183 words - 5 pages is intended for a 'generation' of men who, even though they escaped the shells, were destroyed by war. The generation he writes about is Germany's youth, pushed into the war by their nationalistic elders who have never fought in a war. In the novel, this theme is shown through Paul and his classmate's teacher Kantorek."There were thousands of Kantorek's, all of them convinced that they were acting for the best, in the way that was most comfortable

The Greater Guilt in "Macbeth"

593 words - 2 pages Everybody is driven by guilty conscience in our life. Lady Macbeth and Macbeth feel guilty at different times and different ways. Macbeth feels guiltier than Lady Macbeth after the murder of Duncan. During the Banquet, Mecbeth is very upset and nervous after seeing the ghost, But Lady Macbeth is making an excuse about her husband's fear, and she doesn't show any guilt. At the end of the play, the opposite is true: Lady Mecbeth feels guiltier

The Symbol of Guilt in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

1881 words - 8 pages The scarlet letter is a symbol of guilt with the power to transform not only its wearer, but everyone involved in its inaugural scandal. Pearl and the letter share a certain relationship, and at times seem to mirror each other, as they exhibit similar tendencies. As children of indignity alike, they unconsciously serve as emotional grim reapers, and together, they unwillingly carry out the supernatural mandate of punishment rationed to them

Macbeth: The Effects of Guilt

1218 words - 5 pages do what she thinks is best. Though Lady Macbeth may have initially seemed unaffected by the murders she had been involved in, her desires eventually faded and were replaced with an invincible feeling of guilt which eventually took her life. An overpowering emotion, guilt once lay dormant in Lady Macbeth, but this dormancy foreshadows the effects it would have on her later in the play. At one point, Macbeth states, “…We but teach

The Guilt

1494 words - 6 pages A thick layer of frost covered the ground as the Turner children walked briskly down the 2km drive way to meet the bus. The middle of winter in Peak View was harsh and the air hurt the skin. Although not likely to snow, Peak View was close enough to the Snowy Mountains to make the mornings cold and gloomy. In summer the children would use the run about car to drive to the road but in winter the car was almost always frozen over. The school

Similar Essays

German Guilt In Bernhard Schlink's The Reader

1871 words - 7 pages question has been posed in regards to finding closure with that troubling piece of history from the German conscience. Can one German's experience reflect the tendencies of the entire country with regards to passion, denial, guilt, and finally justice? Absolutely, according to Michael Berg, the main character in Bernhard Schlink?s novel, The Reader

Perspectives On Love In Bernard Schlink's The Reader

1355 words - 5 pages tragic end to their relationship. This resulted in Michael’s sadness throughout the whole story. Michael always reminisced on the unforgettable moments of his relationship with Hanna. Thus, love was a major theme throughout the whole story and was successfully portrayed by Bernhard Schlink. In summary, Bernhard Schlink is portrayed as a proponent of love. Works Cited Schlink, Bernhard. The Reader. Trans. and Carol Brown Janeway. New York: Random House Inc. 1997. Print.

Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader" Essay

1589 words - 6 pages together through the examples each one sets. Expecting to grow properly and learn what one must when put in an unfamiliar generation, is as if trying to teach a person to walk through the example of a whale-both are mammals but are impossible to compare. This is evident in Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, where fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is involved in a secretive, intense, and passionate relationship with thirty-six-year-old Hanna Schmitz. Hanna

"The Reader" By Bernard Schlink About Post Ww2 Germany

2173 words - 9 pages does not give you a better understanding of the raw human emotions and feelings, which are displayed in The Reader. Guilt has no less an ambiguous meaning than responsibility. Guilt should never be dealt in court as some people believe, but instead must be resolved internally. Responsibility should be dealt externally, but leave guilt alone. It is up to the person and only that person whether he/she is guilty and then whether they should take the