The Unbearable Lightness of Being
How we cite our quotes:
"I want you to be old. Ten years older. Twenty years older!"
What she meant was: I want you to be weak. As weak as I am. (2.26.9-10)
A few pages earlier, Tereza expressed a desire to bring herself up to Tomas's level – now she wants to pull him down to hers. Both Tomas and Tereza acknowledge the essential inequality of their relationship.
She longed to do something that would prevent her from turning back to Tomas. She longed to destroy brutally the past seven years of her life. It was vertigo. A heady, insuperable longing to fall.
We might also call vertigo the intoxication of the weak. Aware of his weakness, a man decides to give in rather than stand up to it. He is drunk with weakness, wishes to grow even weaker, wishes to fall down in the middle of the main square in front of everybody, wishes to be down, lower than down. (2.28.2)
What is the source of Tereza's vertigo?
Sabina's exhibition the year before had not been particularly successful, so Marie-Claude did not set great store by Sabina's favor. Sabina, however, had every reason to set store by Marie-Claude's. Yet that was not at all evident from her behavior.
Yes, Franz saw it plainly: Marie-Claude had taken advantage of the occasion to make clear to Sabina (and others) what the real balance of power was between the two of them. (3.6.27)
Of course, Sabina has all the power in the world because she's sleeping with Marie-Claude's husband.