Buddenbrooks Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Buddenbrooks.
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Art and Business

One of the key themes in the novel is the distinction and tension between art and business. The two Buddenbrook brothers symbolize this distinction well. Thomas is clearly interested in business and material advancement. Christian is interested in the theater and in art. In the distinction between these two brothers we see decadent perverted types of the Dionysian and Apollonian. This distinction plays its way throughout the novel and is originally made by Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche believed that there were two strong forces in culture, the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Apollo stands for order and rationality whereas the Dionysian is representative of music, chaos and passion. The focus on the general lack of musical ability or interest in the family is a signifier that the Buddenbrooks exemplify the Apollonian type. Christian is more Dionysian; he cares for music and art above rational, practical pursuits. Gerda is...

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This section contains 843 words
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Buy the Buddenbrooks Study Guide
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