Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why Qualities

Ulrich 's character is a living dichotomy that embodies the conflicting views of ethics andacceptibility in Vienna at the cusp of a new era. The title itself illustrates this through blatant irony. Musil paints his protagonists as one who is deeply intelligent and easily empathized with by the reader. We don't hate him for being without society's definition of qualities, but rather hate the traditional society for defining them in that way. Qualities in this book, to me, seem to be the characteristics of the upwardly mobile who handle themselves with decorum, find a profession and stick with it, and care about socializing with their bourgeois piers. Ulrich does none of these things, and yet he is a great man. He makes us support the idea of possiblist over realist, and thus also makes us believe his description of heroism as the everyday (i.e. that men in everyday life "expend more energy" than a hero who once in a while conquers a great feat). In doing this, Ulrich represents a new kind of realist; one that takes time to stop and smell the roses and one that seeks to be great to himself and no one else.

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