Characters And Relying Themes In The Reader By Bernhard Schlink

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“The Reader” written by Bernhard Schlink, is an inconspicuous and easy to read novel; however, there are many underlying themes in the story that are truly complex. Hanna is one of the two main characters in the story, she seems to be the epitome of what a strong German woman would be portrayed as in Nazi Germany. It doesn’t come to light till much later in the story that her hard exterior was more of a mask and her insecurities are hidden behind it. Hanna comes across child-like, seemingly not able to differentiate between right or wrong decisions. Michael the other main character is a young boy of 15 years old. He first meets Hanna and comes attached to her quickly, instantly forming a bond. He manages to look past Hanna’s tough exterior, …show more content…
We get see a continuous sense of guilt that Michael has; was it the way he let Hanna treat him? Was it the fact he didn’t realize she was illiterate until too late? Michael has an awfully difficult time dealing with the events that happened during the trial. He feels guilty thinking if he had told the judge about Hanna’s disability he could have saved her from a lifetime in jail. Michael seems to punish himself for allowing Hanna to receive a life sentence. The reality is that in trying to conceal her illiteracy, Hanna lies, and Michael watches, incapable of action in fear of being reprimanded by Hanna as her illiteracy was clearly embarrassing for her and she did not want anyone to know. “Why hadn’t I managed to speak to Hanna? She had left me, deceived me, was not the person I had taken her for or imagined her to be. Why did I find it unendurable to do nothing?” (Schlink, p. 158) This quote indicates the clear battle that Michael had with himself when he chose to speak to the judge, why was he doing it? She had wronged him so much, but he still felt guilty for her, still wanted to help her after all she had put others through. This in turn leads to the ultimate guilt that Michael feels with regards to the love and feelings he has for such a monster. How could he love someone that had been so bad and terrible to so many people? We see this internal and external struggle throughout …show more content…
“So she had not left any message for me. Did she intend to hurt me? Or punish me? Or was her soul so tired that she could only do and write what was absolutely necessary.” (Schlink, p. 207) Even after Hanna’s death Michael felt guilt, “I was tormented by the old questions of whether I had denied and betrayed her, whether I owed her something, whether I was guilty for having loved her.” (Schlink, p. 216) Michael’s questions brought up an interesting point for me in which I was unsure of whether Michael knew how he felt about the last time they had met. I feel as though he still had so many questions for Hanna, her commitment of suicide was devastating to Michael as his questions were not able to be answered. I see the suicide as Hanna’s revenge against Michael for sanctioning her to stay alone in jail for all these years and for not sending personal notes or letters. At the end, the relationship felt superficial to Hanna and she knew after seeing Michael he was sending the tapes as an escape and he did not feel the same as we once did for her, thus her selfish decision to take her own life was

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