''Buddenbrooks'' is the most famous novel by German author Creator/ThomasMann. Published in 1901, Mann received the Nobel Prize in Literature for it in 1929. [[WriteWhoYouKnow Based on the experiences of his own family]] (not the only one of his works which did this), it tells about the downfall of a merchant family in the northern German city of Lübeck (the city's name is never stated, but clearly implied). It's set during the years 1835 to 1877. A good example of a RomanAClef.

Let's start with a description of the characters. You'll need it.
* Johann Buddenbrook sr. Didn't found the family business, but made it big (during the wars against NapoleonBonaparte, but [[BackStory that happens before the novel starts]]). An enlightened man who likes to play the flute. Father of Gotthold and Johann jr.
* Johann "Jean" Buddenbrook jr. Younger son of Johann sr. Inherits the family business. Has four children: Thomas, Christian, Antonie and Klara. His fortunes are going sometimes up, sometimes down. Dies relatively young, in his fifties.
* Elisabeth "Bethsy" Buddenbrook, née Kröger. Wife of Jean. Spends a lot of time doing charity work for the (Protestant) church.
* Gotthold Buddenbrook. Older son of Johann sr. Only received the smaller part of his father's fortune after marrying the daughter of a shopkeeper. Has three daughters, who stay unmarried and childless through their lives, are full with envy of the other Buddenbrooks and enjoy their failures.
* Thomas Buddenbrook. After the early death of his father, he becomes head of the business in his twenties. A bit of a dandy, likes expensive clothing. Was in genuine love with a girl selling flowers, but decided that she was of too low rank for a man in his position. Married Gerda then instead and fathered Hanno, who isn't really the son he wished for. Finds that he has trouble to relate to his wife. Struggles hard to keep the fortune of the family together. Is elected senator of Lübeck, but dies soon afterwards - even younger than his father.
* Gerda Buddenbrook née Arnoldsen, who becomes Thomas' wife. Daughter of a great Dutch merchant, who's also a great violinist. Very beautiful, very rich and musically talented. A big fan of Creator/RichardWagner. Not so much into business, and also influences her son in this way, to Thomas' chagrin. Has a relationship with the also musically talented lieutenant Rene von Trotha, with whom she can relate better than with her husband. (It's hard to describe — calling him a lover wouldn't really explain it. Soul mate would be more accurate.) She leaves the city after her husband and son have died, as if "her work was done".
* Christian Buddenbrook. Also learns the business of a merchant, but clearly isn't into it. He prefers telling stories and entertainment. With time, he also becomes more and more concerned with his neuroses and hypochondria. Falls in love with the actress Aline Puvogel (at this time, this was considered a scandal), has a child with her and marries her after his mother's death. [[UngratefulBastard Then, she sends him to an insane asylum and doesn't let him out, even when he begs her.]]
* Antonie "Tony" Buddenbrook. Starts as the "little princess" of the family. Is then sent to a BoardingSchool, where she meets Gerda Arnoldsen, her later sister-in-law. Then enters an ArrangedMarriage with GoldDigger Grünlich, which ends in a divorce. Later tries again, this time with the Bavarian Permaneder. Also doesn't end well. Being very proud of her family, she suffers pretty much from their downfall.
* Klara Buddenbrook. Marries the reverend Tiburtius from Riga (Latvia) and dies early.
* Erika Grünlich. Tony's daughter with Grünlich. Later marries the insurance agent Weinschenk, which also doesn't end well when he has to go to prison for having committed re-insurance fraud. Then he leaves the country, never to return.
* Justus Johann "Hanno" Kaspar Buddenbrook. A sickly, very sensitive boy who's mostly interested in music, as his mother. Has no friends but Kai. Dies of typhus in his teens, although it is implied that he doesn't want to live anymore.
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!!Tropes:

* AdultFear: Ruin, burnout, early death
* AlphabeticalThemeNaming: The Kröger family has Justus and his sons Jakob and Jürgen.
* AmbiguouslyJewish: It's not mentioned directly, but you can find pointed out the one or other time that Hermann Hagenström's nose is hooked — a typical Jewish stereotype.
** Earlier drafts of the book contained more jabs at them, like one character stating that the German revolution (of 1848) was cooked up, or at least inspired at "Jewish teatables in Berlin".
* AmoralAttorney: Weinschenk hires one named Breslauer, who has a reputation for saving many bankrupted businessmen from prison. Thomas suspects that a more down-to-Earth lawyer, even if less competent, would be more promising in their little city where everyone knows everyone. He is right: Breslauer does an impressive argument, but Weinschenk has to go to prison.
* {{Angst}}: Hanno, of course.
** In the school chapter, he angsts: "I am nothing and can do nothing."
* AntiquatedLinguistics: Grünlich uses expressions that are old-fashioned even for his time (mind that he's relatively young, so he has no excuse). "Das putzt ganz ungemein!" Christian finds this funny and imitates Grünlich afterwards.
* ArrangedMarriage: For Jean. Also, Tony's first marriage.
* AtomicFBomb: When Tony catches her second husband in the act with their (female) cook, a row ensues, which culminates in Permaneder insulting her, "Go to hell, you dirty swinish slut!" Divorce ensues.
* AuthorAvatar: [[TheDanza Thomas]] and Hanno.
* BeardOfEvil: Grünlich has mutton chops. (The version without moustache and goatee.)
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: Subverted in the school chapter. In Hanno's class there's the student Wasservogel who's described as very ugly, but all the teachers treat him very generously to prove to themselves and the world that they don't fall victim to this trope.
* BigEater: Klothilde
* BigFancyHouse: Thomas builds one, but later feels exhausted and regrets building such an expensive home. Even the house the family moves in later (after their downfall has become obvious) would probably qualify.
* BlackSheep: Christian.
* BookEnds: At the beginning of the book, the family talks about another merchant who was ruined recently. Guess what happens to the family Buddenbrook at the end.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Many of the teachers, who have peculiar ways of talking and such. Also, some other characters like Thomas' compagnon Marcuse.
* CainAndAbel: Thomas and Christian. Thomas is the strict businessman (although sometimes, it becomes too much for him), Christian a playboy and a neurotic. At one point, Thomas threatens Christian to put him under tutelage. Thomas also tells him, "I became what I am because I didn't want to become like you!"
* CantGetAwayWithNuthin: We learn that the re-insurance fraud Weinschenk committed apparently is common in his line of work, but he's especially unlucky to suffer for it.
* ChildProdigy: Subverted. Hanno is good at doing some little fantasies on the piano, but nothing more. Only Tony thinks he is this.
* TheClan / BigScrewedUpFamily / DysfunctionalFamily: The Buddenbrooks. The Hagenströms are also TheClan, but definitely not so much of the other tropes.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Hanno. It's not funny.
* DeadpanSnarker:
** Hanno and Kai, who "nickname" their teachers not "the spider" or "the cockatoo" as their classmates do, but rather [[SarcasmMode "Herr X"]]. Also, Hanno's geography teacher, who's a big fan of satirist Heinrich Heine, tries to be this.
** Thomas also has elements of this. When Christian starts rambling about how disgusting you feel after drinking too much of punch bowl, he comments "a good reason to describe it in detail". It doesn't stop Christian.
** And then there is Sesemi, when the French girl is taking too much sugar: "I would take the ''whole'' sugar bowl!"
* DeathByChildbirth: Gotthold's mother, which his father never forgives him. And Gerda comes close at Hanno's birth.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: When Thomas takes over the firm, the other businessmen state that he wants to make money "mit avec". "Mit" is German for "with", and "avec" is French.
* DepravedDentist: Subverted with the dentist Brecht. When he has to pull out teeth (at this time, there were no anesthetics!), he gets pretty nervous and suffers with his patients.
** Also BilingualBonus, as Brecht is almost identical to the German word for ''break'' or ''crush''.
* DisappearedDad: Erika, Grünlich's daughter, suffers from this.
* TheDitz: Tony is impressed by smart people (like Morten Schwarzkopf — a doctor-to-be with whom she falls in love, but can't marry him because of the Grünlich thing), but is neither book smart nor street smart herself, and calls herself "a silly goose" sometimes. However, her poor relative Klothilde is even more so, and [[ButtMonkey gets picked on by everybody]].
* TheDogBitesBack: Once, Kai avenges Hanno by biting Hagenström jr.
* {{Doorstopper}}
* DoubleEntendre: At the party at the beginning, a poet who's a friend of the family cites a historical one. It involves the Marshal de Saxe and Louis XV's mistress, the Pompadour, and the poem speaks of them as "the king's sword - and his sheath!"
* DownerEnding: The firm is dissolved, and more importantly, Hanno dies. In the last chapter Tony, the Misses Buddenbrook, and Sesemi Weichbrodt discuss whether or not there is such a thing as God, or even hope. Depending on how you interpret this conversation, it can make the ending more bittersweet or an even bigger downer.
* DramaticIrony: Quite a lot. Prominent example: If Sesemi wishes people good luck or happiness, they always tend to become unlucky and unhappy in their lives.
* EmoKid: The story is older, but Hanno cries very easily.
* EvenTheGirlsWantHer: Tony often points out Gerda's beauty.
* ExecutiveMeddling: Originally, the editor wanted to cut the book to half its length. Mann resisted successfully.
* FamilyBusiness: The novel depicts how it goes down.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: Three so far (and a tv series)
* [[FleetingPassionateHobbies Fleeting Passionate Interests]]: Christian. Once, he tries to learn Chinese.
* {{Foil}}: Kai to Hanno. Kai is wild, Hanno is shy and timid; Kai lives on a farm, Hanno in the city; Kai lives with his father, after Hanno's father's death and the conviction of his uncle all his other family members are female.
* FollowInMyFootsteps: What Thomas wants to enforce in his son Hanno, who's not qualified for this.
* FoodPorn
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Little Hanno reads the family chronicles and also finds the family tree, including his name. Then, he takes a ruler and draws a line under this. When his father gets upset and demands an explanation, Hanno answers "I thought, nothing would follow."
* FromBadToWorse: Probably the main theme of the novel. When Johann sr dies and leaves a strong and successful business to his large family, everything starts to go downhill with nothing of either remaining two generations later.
* GenerationalSaga
* GermanDialects: Mostly the northern ones, but also Bavarian (Permaneder) and West Prussian (Ida Jungmann, the nanny)
* GermanEducationSystem: The school chapter is said to be the best prosa text ever written about Wilhelmine schools.
* GoldDigger: Grünlich, a male example. Tiburtius may also qualify.
* GoodShepherd: Lampshaded in the story, as there is a pastor [clergyman] and Latin teacher named Hirte who likes to point out that both his name and title translate as this.
* GratuitousFrench: This was common in the German higher classes at this time. Besides, there is also GratuitousEnglish, GratuitousSpanish, [[AltumVidetur Gratuitous Latin]] and Gratuitous [[GermanDialects Platt]].
* HeroesWantRedheads: Gerda has long, beautiful red hair.
* HilarityEnsues: At Sesemi's christmas parties, there is always something going wrong.
* HolierThanThou: Johann Buddenbrook jr. was somewhat pietist (other than his enlightened father). His wife becomes this completely, especially as a widow.
* HonorBeforeReason: Hanno unexpectedly gets help (that is, cheating in class) by a classmate who wants to become an officer and believes in cameraderie so much that he even helps Hanno, despite not liking him personally.
* ImperialGermany: The later parts of the novel are set in this time.
* ImpoverishedPatrician / LandPoor: Kai's father, who's a Graf (Count).
** Herr von Maiboom who married Tony's former classmate Armgard von Schilling is an overly indebted patrician and [[spoiler:commits suicide at the end.]]
* InadequateInheritor: Hanno
* InsultBackfire: Grünlich criticizes Tony for wasting money. She admits he's right, but acts like there's nothing she can do - "it runs in my mother's side of the family". Yes, she identifies so much with her family that she defends her flaws. (There's a serious background: Grünlich was practically broke when he asked for her hand; now her GenreSavvy father asked around for Grünlich's financial situation, but since his creditors also knew that Grünlich needed the dowry to pay his debts, they didn't want to tell the truth either.)
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: After Tony's second divorce, Permaneder gives back her dowry (50,000 marks) without complaining.
* JerkJock: The sons of Hermann Hagenström, who use to pick on poor Hanno.
* KindlyHousekeeper: Ida Jungmann, who serves the family several decades. At the end, she is even too kindly - spoiling Hanno and teaching him that all other kids aren't worthy, compared to him.
* LargeHam: The eccentric businessman Gosch (who also translates Lope de Vega in his spare time) who likes to act like a typical stage villain, although [[MeanCharacterNiceActor really being a good man in every way]].
* {{Leitmotif}}: Characters have their typical figures of speech, typical descriptions and so on, which are repeated throughout the book.
* LighterAndSofter: The movie from TheFifties manages to become this trope, although being relatively close to the book.
* LoanShark: Grünlich's banker makes a lot of money thanks to his debts.
* LonelyRichKid: Hanno
* LonersAreFreaks: Hanno and Kai, at least for their classmates.
* LongList: Sometimes, when Tony's upset, she lists all the bad people who have hurt the family (especially her) in the past, and expresses hope that god will punish them.
* {{Malaproper}}: Kind of, we don't know the exact reason, though it's neither stupidity nor lack of schooling — hypercorrection, subdued LargeHam maybe? So or so, Sesemi Weichbrodt always manages to pronounce all vowels in the non-standard way.
* ManipulativeBastard: Grünlich, Tiburtius, Weinschenk
* MeanBoss: Director Wulicke. Sometimes he will tell a joke - and get angry if people laugh.
* MeaningfulName:
** The worker Grobleben -- his name means 'Roughlife'.
** Also Kistenmaker, lit. "box-maker". Now a coffin is a kind of box, and he is responsible for wasting quite some of the family's wealth. (Kistenmaker was the executor of Thomas' will after his death.)
* TheMentallyDisturbed: Christian, who ends up in an asylum.
* MiniatureSeniorCitizens: Therese "Sesemi" Weichbrodt (who admittedly was very short even when younger), head of Tony's BoardingSchool.
* MissingMom: Kai's (she's dead). Also, Gerda's.
* MultigenerationalHousehold
* MuseAbuse
* NightmareFetishist: Christian surely is too fascinated by his own maladies, or his father dying (he wasn't there and wants to hear all the not-so-nice details). It's part of the all-over morbidity theme in the book.
* {{Oktoberfest}}: Tony's second husband, Permaneder, is a Protestant Bavarian who likes drinking beer more than doing business.
* OneGenderSchool: OK, that was standard at this time.
* OneHourWorkWeek: Christian tends to this, to the chagrin of his brother. Also, Justus Kröger, brother-in-law of Jean.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted, there are three Buddenbrooks named Johann, not counting the firm's founder Johan.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Antonie and Justus Johann Kaspar are almost always mentioned as / named "Tony" and "Hanno". Also, Therese Weichbrodt, who tells everyone to call her "Sesemi".
* OnlySaneMan: At the end, Thomas. And then he dies. Say goodbye to the firm.
* PhraseCatcher: Whenever Weinschenk meets Gerda, he asks her "How's your violin?" for lack of a better topic. After the third time, she doesn't bother to answer.
* ThePrankster: Hanno's classmates. Not so much under the watch of the {{stern teacher}}s and {{sadist teacher}}s, but when the new, younger and nicer English teacher enters the classroom, the boys start to throw bang snaps, exchange pornographic drawings in class and openly claim that a classmate (who's sitting in the room!) was dead and thus can't recite the poem he had to learn.
* RefugeInAudacity: After bowing to some teachers of the lower classes (and no, even in ImperialGermany students didn't have to do that - hmm, case of StealthInsult?), Kai greets a pretty old and decrepit teacher: "Good morning, you corpse!" And then looks elsewhere as if nothing had happened.
* TheRival: The family Hagenström. Note that for Thomas, it's just a competitor - but for Tony, it's SeriousBusiness since she had a CatFight with Hermann's sister Julchen when they were kids.
* TheScrooge: Kai's father, who had a sign at his house stating that he doesn't buy anything, doesn't need anything, and [[RuleOfThree doesn't give anything]].
* SelfInsertFic: Kai invents one. It involves Josephus, the parrot of Dr. Brecht, whom they imagine to be an enchanted prince.
* SeriousBusiness: Said business and the station of the family. While Thomas feels an obligation to keep the family line and the business strong and gets depressed from utterly failing at both, Tony constantly ruins her own life because she can never accept what happiness she finds because it's below her station of a patrician daughter.
* ShamingTheMob: When the republican revolutionaries have the city hall surrounded, Jean Buddenbrook talks them down, and things end peaceful. Well, almost, when his father-in-law is hit by a stone shortly afterward and becomes so enraged that he has a fit and dies.
* ShoutOut: Hanno's class has to learn the poem "The Monkey" by Mary Howitt (1799-1888). They think it's pretty dumb, and the student who has to present it openly cheats.
* SinisterMinister: Tiburtius, who [[ManipulativeBastard manipulates]] his wife (and indirectly, her mother) into giving her inheritance to him. Also, Trieschke who falls in love with Tony.
* TheSlacker: Johnny Thunderstorm with whom Christian "worked" in Valparaiso. Christian [[UnreliableNarrator claims]] that he (Johnny) was a great merchant, though.
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Hanno and Gerda do so, although they are not exactly {{the chessmaster}}s.
* SpoiledBrat: Young Tony is like this
* StealingFromTheTill: Riekchen Severin who worked for Jean's widow (Thomas, Christian's and Tony's mother) takes some bedsheets and such after the widow has died, claiming that they were promised to her. Tony is shocked.
* SternTeacher to SadistTeacher: Most of Hanno's, especially the very {{Prussia}}n director Wulicke, whom Hanno and Kai nickname "the good {{God}}" (he is much like the Old Testament God — don't provoke his wrath). Many of these are also pretty eccentric.
* StutteringIntoEloquence: Typical behavior of Herr Ballerstedt, Hanno's religion teacher. (The other students call him "the cockatoo".)
* SweetTooth: James Möllendorpf, another patrician of the city, is a diabetic and still insists on eating cake. When his family stops him, he rents a shady apartment - for no other reason than to eat cake there. Which will kill him at the end.
* TakeOurWordForIt: After Thomas has died, the family is busy writing cards for the funeral. Hanno is helping too, despite being a kid. Then, he happens to stumble upon a [[UnfortunateNames funny name]] and starts [[MoodWhiplash laughing out loud]]. (For the record, in TheSeries said name became "[[InherentlyFunnyWords Schluckebier]]".)
* TeachersPet: Herr Mantelsack has several of them, and prefers them in a very {{egregious}} way. And changes them on a whim. Noone dares to protest however, because noone wants to miss on his chance.
* TheUnfavorite: Jean's older brother, Gotthold. Gotthold's mother whom their father had loved very much died at Gotthold's birth, which the father never forgave him. When Gotthold married the daughter of a shopkeeper, the split is complete.
* UpperClassTwit: Christian. He may be less genuine stupid like other examples, but has a tendency to put his foot in the mouth. Like when he states in the club (where all the other businessmen are, including TheRival Hagenström): "Isn't every businessman basically a crook?"
* TheVamp: Gerda. While she is more than a two-dimensional movie Vamp, she doesn't exactly have a good influence on the family, and leaves [[KarmaHoudini unscathed]] at the end of the story, with her husband and son dead, the family being without any influence left, and the firm dissolved.
* TheVonTropeFamily: Armgard von Schilling and her later husband, von Maiboom.
* WithFriendsLikeThese: Thomas' friend Kistenmaker is responsible for executing the testament after Thomas' death, and causing great financial losses for the family.
* WriteWhatYouKnow
* WriteWhoYouKnow: All the characters are based on Thomas Mann's family members. His uncle who supposedly was like Christian wasn't too happy about it. Also note the relationship between Thomas and Christian in the novel, and Thomas Mann's with his RealLife brother Heinrich...
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