Tuesday, January 15, 2008

1/14/2008 promt

Ulrich is an infuriating and ironic contradiction in and of himself. The irony of this novel begins in its very title. He dares to call himself ‘the man without qualities,’ when in all reality he is exactly the opposite. The depth of his thoughts and the way he expresses himself constitute qualities. However, for Ulrich qualities are defined very differently. The only way to describe how Ulrich understands himself is to analyze how he understands others. The easiest comparison is drawn between himself and his father in terms of how to explain what qualities are and are not in Ulrich’s mind. For Ulrich a man with qualities is a realist. This man follows the status quo, and conforms to what society expects of him. Conversely, he defines a man without qualities as someone more like himself. This man is a possiblist. He is more of a capable person than the realist, because rather than conform to society, he finds his own path in search of his own individual identity. I personally think it is much more admirable to hold your own individuality as more important than the norm that society deems ‘normal,’ but I didn’t live in turn of the century Vienna. The only way I can really think to make sense of how Ulrich defines himself is to try to understand how he defines his father. Ulrich and his father are so very different that in defining his father as a man with qualities, Ulrich automatically will define himself as a man without qualities.

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