It is said that no man is an island, and no man stands alone. Hence, true human existence can not prevail positively or productively without the dynamics of society. Yet, this concept is very much a double-edged sword . Just as much as man needs to exist in society and needs the support and sense of belonging, too much social pressures can also become a stifling cocoon of fantasies and stereotypes that surround him. He becomes confined to the prototype of who or what he is expected to be. Thus, because society is often blinded by the realms of the world, its impositions in turn cripples humanity. If he does not conform, he becomes a social out cast, excluded and excommunicated from the fabric of life. The theme alienation in a small society is depicted primarily through setting by both authors Conrad and Kafka in Metamorphosis and Heart of Darkness. This depiction demonstrates how this isolation has a negative impact on the individual and ultimately leads to his destruction and decadence.
As illustrated in Metamorphosis, Kafka demonstrates the isolation of Gregor, the protagonist through the medium of his room. The “room” symbolizes how Gregor lacks relationship with his surroundings, his family and others. Kafka describes it as being “ A regular human room …” with “the four familiar walls”(3). This is society’s standards. It is portrayed as being full of ones basic essentials; with the regular old furniture. However, as the novel continues, Gregor’s life continues to change. His room is transformed to his new life and essentials. He begins to lose all his furniture, that “he had been use to [for] so long”(33). As a result there is a sense of emptiness and hollowness which is reflective of his surroundings and within himself. This abyss of isolation delves into grave endlessness and has him suffering from the lack of interaction with humanity.
On the contrary, in Heart of Darkness, Conrad focuses on the isolation of “Kurtz” the, main man of the “Congo”. Conrad’s medium of the river plays a focal point in the setting as a boundary that separates Kurtz from civilization. The river “resembles an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land” (10). The expanse of the “snake-like” river embodies a negative connotation of something sinister and stealthily lurking. While the Congo had been described as being “one of the darkest places of the earth” (6). This creates feelings of darkness, despair and desolation.
Again in Metamorphosis, forces alienation which reveals the cruelty of man, which forces him to question the purpose of his own life. In instances when, “Gregor had absolutely no intentions of opening the door… locking all the doors” (6). This impacts Gregor by leading him to lock himself away and retreat to his room. What began as imposed isolated, is now becoming self imposed. As a result, he starts to “feel abandoned in the empty...