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Kafka And Tolstoy Essay

1174 words - 5 pages

Written in 1915 by Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis stands as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century. Also, written by Leo Tolstoy in 1886, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a fictional masterpiece. Although these novellas were written in different countries by different authors and approximately 30 years apart, they share a common underlying theme of alienation in their stories.
One of the themes of The Metamorphosis is that the protagonist, Gregor Samsa becomes alienated from his own family. Gregor Samsa awakes in his bed one morning only to discover that he has transformed into a large insect. Gregor, a traveling salesman has overslept and receives a visit from his office ...view middle of the document...

Before the transformation, she loved and vouched for her son. When the office manager was angered about Gregor’s job performance, she defended him proclaiming how great of a worker he is. Upon first sight of the metamorphosis, Gregor’s mother passes out. Weak and distraught, the mother becomes torn between her love for her son and his unbearable physical condition. While she decides to move his furniture out of his room, she considers that she might be doing him a disservice by stripping him of his possessions. At one point she is alienating him by taking his furniture but then begins to sympathize with him. However, when she spots Gregor crawling on the wall she yells and passes out. The father mistakenly thinks that his son attacked his mother and throws an apple at his back. Next, the mother begs her husband to relax and have mercy on Gregor. Essentially, the mother’s maternal impulses and sympathy for her son drive her one way, while her repulsion toward his unbearable physical condition directs her to the other.
Furthermore, Grete Samsa, Gregor’s younger sister also alienates him from the family. Initially, Gregor and Grete have a very close relationship. However, this quickly fades. Initially, Grete volunteers to be Gregor’s caretaker while feeding and cleaning after him. Grete’s shift of feelings towards her older brother is a transformation in itself that goes through phases. At one point, Grete shows compassion towards her older brother but it turns into a possessive resentment as she becomes negatively affected by his new condition. Gradually, Grete’s empathy for her older brother deteriorates due to her disgust and horror at his appearance. This has permanent damage on the relationship between Gregor and his sister as he now considers her entry an intrusion. Finally, their relationship continues to fade up until the point where Gregor becomes alienated from her. After Gregor’s death, his family feels relieved. Gregor sadly passes on completely alienated from his own flesh and blood.
Similarly, in the novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, the protagonist Ivan Ilyich becomes a product of alienation. Ivan is a successful man but conforms to the views of society. While having no morals or values of his own, Ivan blindly adopts the views of people with high social standing. He becomes intolerant towards anything that threatens his own comfort. Although Ivan’s has a successful career,...

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