Connie Wilson-Prewitt Mr. Pyda MWF 10-10:50 3/8/13 In the story The Kugelmass Episode, Woody Allen takes the reader on an exciting journey through time and literature that keeps you begging for more. Professor Kugelmass is a middle-aged teacher at City College in New York City. He seems to be unfulfilled and bored with his life as a whole. The real world is far too drab for his liking and so he sets out to change his life but ultimately ends up turning his world upside down.
Allen uses colorful dialogue to first disconnect the reader from the main character, bring irony and humor to the story, and use that humor to teach the reader a thing or two about being satisfied and happy with what you have. Kugelmass has been married twice. His marriages seem to have taken a toll on him and he also seems to be right smack in the thick of a midlife crisis.. He is no longer satisfied with his wife and decides to have an affair with the one and only Madame Bovary. Kugelmass says of his wife, “Who suspected she’d let herself go and swell up like a beach ball? Allen obviously did not want the reader to feel sad or sorry for the main character. He so effortlessly creates a distance between the reader and Kugelmass so that the reader may be able to laugh at this man throughout the entire story without thinking twice. The first dialogue in this story is Kugelmass belittling his wife and then describing the type of woman he thinks he needs. It is doubtful that there are too many readers that would be rooting for this character after reading the first few paragraphs.
If the character of Kugelmass had been a handsome honest man that respected his wife instead of bad mouthed her, the reader may have had a hard time accepting and laughing at this mans many mishaps throughout the story. Humor and irony are the backbone of this work. Without the humor that Allen brings to the table, this story is just a pathetic unrealistic look at how a character’s plan to have an affair backfired. Yet, the writer brings such witty comedy that it is hard to remember that this is a story about a man’s life falling apart.
Even the simplest plot twist, like Kugelmass rewriting the book every time he visits Bovary, add comicality that’s subtle yet effective. The irony shows up two times. The first is when Kugelmass is talking to his therapist that tells him he needs to see a magician to fix his problems, only to have the magician tell him he needs to see a therapist. The second is the fact that having the affair was supposed to make Kugelmass happier and more content, instead he ends up stressed out and frustrated by the end of the story.
Sometimes it is a good thing to always strive for better for oneself. If there is something in life that’s desired, go get it. However, the secret is knowing where to draw the line. Kugelmass is far too insatiable to ever be happy. In the beginning of the story, he speaks of having an affair with his ideal woman referring to her as beautiful and passionate. However, by the end of the story his experience with her has been so horrible that he swears off cheating forever.
A mere 3 weeks later he is back at Persky The Magician’s house for his final fix. “Sex and romance,” he utters, “What we go through for a pretty face. ” This middle aged balding man definitely could learn the value of being grateful and happy with what you have. Woody Allen taps into some pretty serious human behavior in this part of the story. Far too often people think they deserve better than they have and in the pursuit of higher contentment, they often screw themselves up more than ever.
Allen nailed this concept because even after Kugelmass goes through his ordeal with Madame Bovary and swears off infidelity forever, he is back at Persky’s within a month yearning for more. Seriously, how many times does this have to blow up in his face before he learns his lesson? The Kugelmass Episode can be used as an example for how not to live your life. Think about it, if the title character had married for love instead of looks and money, he would have never gotten himself into this mess.
Yet the reader still holds out hope that by the end of the story he will have learned his lesson. It is that type of hope that makes this story such a great read. Even though Kugelmass can be described as a sad pathetic man that wouldn’t know happiness if it kicked him in the head, there is still hope that he might learn his lesson. Who knows? Maybe if he ever gets himself out of Remedial Spanish he will finally learn to be happy with what he has.