The Kugelmass Episode

by Woody Allen

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What characteristics make Kugelmass a suitable comic protagonist in "The Kugelmass Episode"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The original question had to be edited down.  To a great extent, what makes Kugelmass a comic protagonist is that he features a sizable gap between reality and his own perception of self.  His own condition seems to not converge with how he sees himself.  This lack of understanding is where he enables himself to become a comic protagonist.  For example, while he sees himself as one with "soul" and akin to a dashing ladies' man, the reality is that Kugelmass is ‘‘bald and hairy as a bear" and aging.  He does not fully embrace his own sense of self and his own identity, and this is what makes him so comic in many respects.  This lack of convergence between who he is and who he thinks himself to be is where the humor arises in the disintegration between he and Emma.  It is out of this that Kugelmass,  who thinks he has manipulated a situation to his ultimate advantage without really caring for anyone else, ends up becoming a comic figure when the situation turns on him and makes his life more frustrating.  It is for this reason that he is a comic protagonist.  Kugelmass' inability to recognize reality and his place in it is what allows for the situations in the narrative to happen.  Consider the ending when he wants to be a character in Portnoy's Complaint, but ends up being inserted in a Spanish textbook, as representative of this.  It is here where his comic sensibilities are evident, in a complete refusal to accept what reality is and his place within it.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial