Secondly, Kafka utilizes the constant financial concerns in Gregor’s household to demonstrate how family stressors mold children’s personalities around hardship, ultimately siphoning the health of their hearts, bodies, and minds away. At the start of the novella, Kafka explains how the family’s financial troubles affect Gregor, One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug . . . His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes . . . ‘Oh God,’ he thought, ‘what a demanding job I’ve chosen! . . . Once I’ve got together the money to pay off the parents’ debt to him. (Kafka 1, 2, 3)We can see that Gregor’s body lacks health for he literally transforms into a “monstrous” and “verminous” insect; such an all-encompassing metaphor clearly depicts Gregor’s physical illness as his body has lost its form. The imagery of Gregor’s “numerous legs, pitifully thin . . . flickered helplessly” describes how this disease compromises his body so it can barely function, and the specific diction of these two words carries sickly connotations (as vermin are generally unwanted due to grime and disease). Hence, Gregor’s body serves as a malady for him. Nevertheless, Gregor still fails to tend to his body’s poor state, completely dismissing the fact that he is no longer human. Instead, Gregor stresses his mind over “what a demanding job” he has, which he is forced to retain in order to pay off the family’s “debt.” The juxtaposition between Gregor’s distressed body and his neglecting thoughts reveals Gregor’s mental sickness; he lacks basic contact with his body - he lacks self awareness. Moreover, as the main source of income, the family’s money issues will consistently pressure Gregor, becoming his responsibility. Consequently, Gregor spends a great portion of his youthful years under the strain of family finances, which infiltrates his every thought and conditions him into his physical and mental illness. The distress of Gregor’s mind surfaces more clearly a few pages later, when Kafka narrates Gregor’s situation and thoughts as he remains stuck in bed, Then why was [Grete] crying? Because . . . he was in danger of losing his position, and because then his boss would badger his parents once again with old demands? . . . [Gregor] told himself again that he couldn’t possibly remain in bed and that it might be the most reasonable thing to sacrifice everything if there even was the slightest hope of getting himself out of bed in the process. At the same moment, however, he didn’t forget to remind himself from time to time of the fact that calm (indeed the calmest) reflection might be better than the most confused decisions. (Kafka 11, 7) Here, his family’s financial distress envelopes Gregor as his sister is “crying” about how he could be in “danger of losing his position.” Therefore, with this constant background pressure, Gregor grows desperate and reveals how the financial distress sickens his mind. Contradicting thoughts emerge and dominate him as the urge to “sacrifice everything” clashes with his self-realized need for “calm” and efficient “reflection.” The diction of “told” and “remind” reveal Gregor’s pronounced self-talk and lecturing tone towards himself, which reflects a sickness of the mind for Gregor doesn’t treat himself with loving respect, but as a separate person he cannot trust. Yet even after all this swirling thought, Gregor still remains stuck in bed, displaying that this obsessive process lacks purpose, which is a key sign of illness.
In addition, Kafka reveals that the financial strain damages Gregor’s heart,Already on the first day his father laid out all the financial circumstances and prospects to his mother and sister as well . . . The money which Gregor had brought home every month . . . had not been completely spent and had grown into a small capital amount. Gregor . . . nodded eagerly, rejoicing over this unanticipated foresight and frugality. True, with this excess money, he could have paid off more of his father’s debt to his employer and the day on which he could be rid of this position would have been a lot closer, but now things were doubtless better the way his father had arranged it. (Kafka 34).One can observe through this social setting that the family atmosphere revolves around finances. On the “first day,” even before the family can mourn the loss of their human son, Mr. Samsa explains “financial circumstances” to his family. In this heavily money-stressed environment, Gregor immediately forgives his father for lying to him and extending Gregor’s tedious and unenjoyable service to his “employer,” “rejoicing” over the news of saved money. This irony reveals that Gregor sacrifices his own heart and emotions, even his right to feel anger for his prolonged suffering and that his life was put on hold, just so his family will have a little more “capital” for a little bit longer. Gregor even fails to care that he, the former money-maker of the house, was kept in the dark concerning his own income! Furthermore, the diction in “doubtless” reveals how Gregor cannot even question his father for one second. Through these points, Kafka shows that family stressors cause Gregor’s lack of care for himself, allowing his heart’s neglect and illness. Therefore, Kafka employs his novella to expose how distress in the family of children causes a lack of physical, emotional, and mental health, while inserting an all-sacrificing desperation against such hardship into children’s personalities.
Both Tom and Gregor are expected to provide for their families. They are the breadwinners. The primary, and only source of income for their families. On both ends the family is taking their effort for granted. “What right have you got to jeopardize your job? Jeopardize the security of us all?” (Williams 23) Shrieks Amanda, Toms mother. It isn't Toms decision as to how he wants to live his life. He has no right to chose his own destiny, no right to do anything outside of his mothers expectations.. Tom is working a menial job, when he has dreams far beyond that, and the madness this causes is slowly taking its toll. Since Tom is not happy to sacrifice everything (unlike Gregor) his life, in his own eyes, is a horror show that he is imprisoned in. This is why when he is confronted about his job by Amanda he lashes out,“House, house! Who pays rent on it, who makes a slave of himself” (Williams 21) Tom proclaims he is a slave. One who has no options in life, one whose only purpose (as viewed by others) is to work and toil at his master's whim, and Tom realizes this, unlike Gregor. Although Gregor is likewise trapped he is almost the polar opposite of Tom in the way he reacts. In the first few pages of the book Gregor mentions his work situation a but offhandedly during his rant, “If I didn’t hold back for my parents sake, I would have quit ages ago.” (Kafka 3) Right out of the gate Gregor lets us know that he is trapped in his horrible miserable job because he has to provide for his family. But unlike Tom’s family his isn’t actually forcing him to work. Gregor’s family was able to sustain themselves before he received his high paying job, and after he turns into a bug but Gregor is intoxicated with the idea that he is the most important person in his family. He revels in the responsibility that he has created for himself by pushing his family to be lazy and useless. So although they both claim to be very similar to one another, Toms condition is not self inflicted nor is it mostly in his head whereas Gregors... is.Till, I thought we were posting one paragraph, not our whole essay. Mrs. D' Amato if you read this can you please clarify if I did it right?
The differences in both of the settings where the characters live, lead them to different ways of escape. Tom talks to his friend Jim about how he wants to leave his home to find freedom. Tom exclaims, “I’m tired of the movies… yes, movies! Look at them-- [a wave toward the marvels of Grand Avenue] All those glamorous people-- having adventures-- hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving!... I am tired of the movies and I am about to move!” (Williams 61). Tom goes to the movies because it is the only way he can escape from his small apartment and forget about the problems he has with his family, however he explains how he is “tired” of going to the movies because when the movies end he always has to come back to his confined apartment, showing that he is not fully free. When Tom talks about how people go to movies “instead of moving”, he is referring to himself as well because all he does is go to the movies instead of finding a way to be completely free from the place he lives in. He has gotten tired of being kept prisoner inside his small apartment that he now wants to find a way to leave, because even though he has the firescape as a way to be closer to freedom. The firescape is still part of the place that is keeping him from being free. Despite all this, he is still more free compared to Gregor because he is able to go outside and have more contact with the world even though he eventually goes back to his home. The only way that Gregor finds a place to escape and feel relief is on his leather couch. Gregor hears his family discuss about their financial situation, making him feel guilty about what is going on in his family. Kafka describes, “When it came to talking about this need to earn money, at first Gregor went away from the door and threw himself on the cool leather sofa beside the door, for he was quite hot from shame and sorrow” (Kafka 35). After hearing about the situation that his family is going through, Gregor starts feeling ashamed of himself for not being able to help his family so he goes to the sofa. The sofa is a way for him to relieve himself, this is shown when Kafka uses the words, “cool” and “hot” to describe how Gregor was feeling. The coolness of the sofa made Gregor feel better since he was feeling “hot” from the bad emotions that hearing what his family was going through made him feel. However, his place of escape is still inside his secluded room, which show that it is not a way of freedom and is more of a way to find relief. Since Tom is more exposed to the outside world, he has a different way of finding the way to escape which is in the end, leaving his small apartment and his family behind. Tom says, “ I descended the steps of the fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps” (Williams 97). Tom finally leaves through the place where he was closer to freedom, the fire escape. This time he finally fully find freedom due to the choices he has made. Gregor’s way of escaping is a different way than Tom escapes from the four walls that confine him. Gregor is unable to move, feeling pain all over his body. Kafka describes, “From the window he witnessed the beginning of the general dawning outside. Then without willing it, his head sank all the way down, and his nostrils flowed out weakly out his last breath”(Kafka 69). Gregor’s way of escaping his confinement is through death. The window is shown in this part of the novella to demonstrate that nothing has changed, that Gregor is still trapped inside his home, with no other way to escape but through death. Thus demonstrating that the fire escape helps Tom escape from his confinement in an easy way opposed to the way that Gregor escaped.
The loneliness that Laura experiences is significant to how she is perceived. “Laura: Oh be careful- if you breathe, it breaks!... Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him? Jim: It sure does shine?” (83) Jim is able to see Laura in a different light than everyone else because he is closer to her. No one has made the effort to pick up the glass and see it from a whole new perspective. The glass loving the light shows that she is eager to let herself shine and be seen for who she is, but she was only perceived from a distance by others. Because of this, Laura is able to share herself with someone, to have someone understand her more intimately than others have. Amanda worships Laura and likes her on display like the glass menagerie; Jim is closer to Laura than her mom because her mom doesn’t hold the glass over the light. However, “Jim lights a cigarette and leans indolently back on his elbows smiling at Laura with a warmth and charm which light her inwardly with altar candles.” (79) Jim’s warmth is able to shine through her, allowing him to see her in a different light. ‘Altar candles’ shows that it Laura inner worship towards Jim has strengthened because of the different light. People always see her through light from an outside source and can only see so much. From the inside, it is not blocked by the insecurities that she has about herself and pressures that she has to deal with. The light shining within her shows that the shine cannot be obstructed by anything because it can’t be distorted. Instead of different angles and seeing Laura in different perspectives, she is seen in her purist form because it is a constant light from within and can’t be changed. In addition, light can originate from many sources such as the sun, moon or other sources from people. With the two ways of perceiving Laura, this represented that her isolation has allowed her to become more of herself because the world around her illuminates who she is.
Through the transparent glass of a window, the image outside appears promising, reassuring the one who views it that a better life is to come. In The Glass Menagerie, the setting of a window takes place frequently, easing the anxiety placed over a character. Amanda longs for her daughter Laura, to be suited with a good man that will take care of her unlike her father. Amanda convinces her son Tom, to find Laura a suitor. The scene take place as, “She turns her back to him and stands rigidly facing the window on the gloomy gray vault of the areaway. Its light on her face with its aged but childish features is cruelly sharp, satirical as a Daumier print” (Williams 29). Anxiety rushes to Amanda’s thoughts because Laura refuses to stay in school and remains without a companion. The family’s “gray” life without a father and husband for Laura brings Amanda to the window. She peers out the window in hope that Laura will have a future beyond living in the apartment forever. The window acts as a source of assurance for Amanda as she is fearful for her daughter to receive a successful gentleman caller. A similar side of anxiety is shown In The Metamorphosis. Gregor is trapped inside a room with only the settings of furniture to accompany him. His family is distraught and confused at how Gregor could be a bug but leave him to remain in the bedroom. A source of hope lies for Gregor, “Then he crept up on the window sill...leaned against the window to look out, obviously with some memory or other of the satisfaction which that used to bring him in earlier times” (Kafka 35). Bugs live on the run; weather changes their habitat and humans threaten their chance for a peaceful living. It is clear that Gregor is living with uneasiness since his transformation. Before his transformation, he was the supporter of the family. He can no longer aid the family, which fills him with anxiety because his life without purpose can end very soon. Just as Amanda looks out the window to ease her anxiety, Gregor looks out the window in memory of past times that were more uplifting. Staring out the window provides a mindless act of relieving his anxiety as he cannot do anything about his condition.
Mr. Samsa depicts the stereotypical male gender role through his aggressive and resentful behavior towards Gregor and his family. Through this behavior, Gregor and his family become increasingly less appreciative of his role as a father and husband. As the father, but not the provider for the family, Mr. Samsa obtains and secures his authority through his abusive manner. In his attempts to feel superior, Gregor and his family often find themselves victims to this behavior. “Gregor stood still in fright. Further flight was useless, for his father had decided to bombard him… as her (Mrs. Samsa) hands reached to the back of his father’s head and she begged him to spare Gregor’s life” (Kafka 48-49). Infuriated by Gregor’s new form, Mr. Samsa attempts to demonstrate and proclaim his authority by relentlessly attacking Gregor, nearly killing him. The aggressive behavior of Mr. Samsa exemplifies that of a conventional male role, all the while instilling fear in both Gregor and Mrs. Samsa. Kafka writes, “Gregor stood still in fright… his father had decided to bombard him” (Kafka 48). By displaying Gregor’s fright of his father, Kafka also portrays Mr. Samsa’s power. Gregor finds that running away from his father is far from useful, believing that once his father has made a decision, there is no turning back, even if his father has decided to harm Gregor. Gregor’s fright displays the power in which Mr. Samsa holds. By inducing fright and intimidation in Gregor and Mrs. Samsa, it becomes evident that Mr. Samsa has become successful in his use of aggressive behavior to gain authority. Nonetheless, Gregor continues to provide for the family, thereby leading Mr. Samsa to maintain his belligerent behavior. Through this behavior, Mr. Samsa portrays the aggressive behavior of a male stereotype seeking authority. Though his behavior allows him to be successful in acquiring power, it does little to aid him in creating a strong family relationship. Mr. Samsa may feel authoritative, yet his family lives in fear of his behavior and actions. He acts in this manner in hopes of gaining authority because he is not the provider of the family, but he does not do anything to fix this situation. His hesitation to take action and become the prime provider only encourages his hostile behavior, which further damages his relationship with Gregor and the family.
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Dina KharagThe change with the gentleman caller is freshly set in Amanda’s mind. It affects her so that Amanda uses the outdoors as a way to dive deeper into these feelings. Williams writes, “(Amanda) ‘Let those dishes go and come in front! Laura, come here and make a wish on the moon!’ (Laura) ‘Moon-moon?’ (Amanda)’A little silver slipper of a moon. Look over your left shoulder, Laura, and make a wish!’ Now! Now, darling wish! (Laura) ‘What shall I wish for, Mother?’ (Amanda) “Happiness! Good fortune!’ ” (Williams, pg 49). In the conversation between Amanda and Laura, Amanda’s hopes are high and centered onto Laura with having her first gentleman caller. By using the moon to project this dream, Amanda loses herself into this desire. This essentially makes Amanda believe that since the change has come, she thinks that Laura will establish herself onto this change. So Amanda uses the moon as a way to present a truth that Amanda never directly told Laura: she wants Laura to be a day dreamer. Amanda provides this image by saying that Laura should wish for “happiness” and “good fortune” since that’s what the gentleman caller is suppose to provide. Amanda even says “make a wish” in order to get Laura to start believing in this false dream. However, Laura doesn’t understand this as she questions the “moon-moon?” which is essentially questioning her mother’s beliefs. This presents a disconnection between the two as Laura has always been a thoughtful thinker while Amanda is a hopeless romantic. This makes Amanda isolate herself from Laura due to being succumbed to her falsified desires.
Tom’s larger than life expectations are exemplified when he says, “All of those glamorous people - having adventures - hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up ! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them ! Yes, until there's a war. That's when adventure becomes available to the masses ! (Williams 61) This quote is very important because it makes a statement about Tom. Tom deceives himself by romanticising this dream of being like the “glamorous people” in the movies. He thinks that the adventure he seeks is comparable to that of his father. He also displays his selfishness as he tells, “hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up ! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them ! Yes, until there's a war. That's when adventure becomes available to the masses!” This excerpt is crucial to understanding Tom because it represents his selfish romanticisation of his shallow dreams that have no basis in reality. He envies these characters as he envies his father. Tom falls in love with the unrealistic lack of responsibility that these peoples lives encompass. His parallels with war also represent his selfish disregard for realism because he describes war as a chance to experience adventure, rather than fight, defend, and protect anything he holds dear. Tom looks to these people and hides himself away in movies in an attempt to distract himself from his hatred of his home life. He deceives himself by romanticising the lives people lead when they are not providing for their families.
Humans are natural dreamers, creatures who aspire from a young age to do great things. Yet the reality is that most people never come close to attaining their dreams, instead toiling within tiresome lives that never progress forward, treadmills to nowhere. In Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the author explores why some people are bound to this type of failure while others possess the ability to break free. Gregor and Grete are contrasting figures in the novella whose ambitions are similarly grand, yet it is only Grete, the younger sister, who escapes the suffocating setting of their rundown apartment. The differences between Grete and Gregor illuminate alternative methods of human existence in the face of hardship, as Gregor withers, unable to separate himself from the source of his misery, while Grete blooms, ending her suffering through self-empowerment and independence.
Then again, the way Kafka writes challenges one to think about how Mr. Samsa feels about his son’s death. Gregor’s father says, “All right, come here then. Let’s finally get rid of old things.” (Kafka 73) This can be interpreted in two completely different ways. It can be looked at as a cleansing. Usually when you are mourning you tend to cope by cleaning and not having such strong memories in the room. This is a normal and most common way one would think of. On the other hand, there is the idea that it is in a rude way. Gregor and his father never really had a strong relationship. His father could mean getting rid of things as if it was a hassle to have his stuff around. It could be looked at as if his father thinks, we finally have space.
In the play The Glass Menagerie, Tom lives with his mother Amanda and his sister Laura. His father abandoned the family leaving Amanda as a single mother, Amanda then believes that that Tom being the only man in the house is obligated to provide for the family whether if he wanted to or not. His mother Amanda sets a level of expectation towards Tom that he has to maintain the household financially and on an emotional level because he is the only man in the household. This causes Tom to feel trapped because he has certain responsibilities when he would much rather go out and chase his dreams. Amanda says, “"What right have you got to jeopardize your job? Jeopardize the security of us all? How do you think we’d manage if you were (Williams 33). Here Amanda admits to the fact that the family depends on him. She uses the mechanism of making Tom feel guilty and making them seem as if they were to be doomed without Tom supporting the household. Amanda with this manipulates and traps Tom into staying and maintains the family. Tom is then pressured to do something he does not want to do this causes stress and frustration to tear him apart. Tom breaks out and says, “"House, house! Who pays rent on it, who makes a slave of himself to” (Williams 21). Tom feels enslaved into what he is doing, clearly showing that he is unhappy and feels stuck in the position that he is. It is evident that he is unable to bear with this weight that has been placed on his shoulders. Tom says himself that he is feeling like a “slave”, meaning that on a daily basis he works hard for them and is not compensated. He is forced to work whether if he likes it or not, he is being deprived from the opportunity to live out the life he wants like an average men. for all he does for them. Amanda once again tells Tom, “"I’ve had to put up a solitary battle all these years. But you’re my right-hand bower! Don’t fall down, don’t fail!" (Williams 30). She is placing the responsibility on Tom to hold down the household; she makes Tom feel bad if he were to leave. Tom has been constantly told by his mother that his job is to provide and maintain for the family, therefore Tom is frustrated and is beginning to be pushed towards escaping and fleeing the life that he is in.
Because of Amanda’s influences Laura has become a doll, to Amanda, which she morphs and bends to her liking. More proof of this is in the second part of the quote “Her hair is tied back from her forehead with a ribbon” very tidy and uniform attire, which matches the glasses tidy and neat format”. This displays how the glass figures personify Laura’s struggles with by controlling her own destiny. Like Laura glass is unmovable and is petrified in time. In addition when Tom, Laura’s brother has a fit and damages Laura’s glass collection “with an outraged groan he tears the coat off again, splitting the shoulder of it, and hurls it across the room. It strikes against the shelf of Laura’s glass collection, and there is a tinkle of shattering glass. Laura cries out as if wounded (Tennessee 24)” This shows how she reacts with fragility to things: smaller incidents really upset her, threaten her self-security more than it would other people. In a way this incident showcases Laura having lost touch with what really matters in life. Instead she only cares about the superficial things. Amanda created a daughter surrounded by rare and expensive things, but what she couldn’t foresee was that her daughter would become like them.
As Gregor’s transformation occurs, and he no longer is able to provide the substantial for his family, he succumbs to the agony that his family puts him through; because of the failure to no longer being able to assist them. The parental figure, serves as a huge expectation that Gregor has to live up too, but he quickly realizes that the same parental figure becomes a burden for him, a suffering that no matter how much he tries to fix it; ultimately ends up eating away more at him and all his good intentions. Gregor’s transformation aids him in being able to see that life as cliche as it sounds, its hard. Gregor after being with his father says,“Gregor has to tell himself that he couldn’t keep up this running around for a long time, because whenever his father took a single step, he had to go through an enormous number of movements” (Kafka 48). This quote demonstrates the inability to live up to expectations, Gregor sees that he can’t keep up this running, because he is his own person (go deeper, talk about this sense of fear that is enstilled). Meaning that no matter the expectations laid down by his father, Gregor at the end is his own person. He can only do so much, before reaching that limit. Gregor hints at the fact that for that one step his father takes, he must make enormous movements, meaning its all taking a toll. Surprisingly enough once his family sees that Gregor can no longer keep up, selfishly they turn their back on him, treat him as if all the sacrifices he has made trying to live up to them, have been in vain. His sister, tells their parents, “We must try to get rid of it, the sister now said decisively to the father, for the mother, in her coughing fit, wasn’t listening to anything, its killing you both” (Kafka 65). Coldness and abandonment from a family morality is experienced in this quote, a sister who tries to persuade the parents to get rid of this it, this being, Gregor. The same it that gave his life to them, is seen as garbage they can just toss out because it no longer serves a purpose. Gregor feels the vibe his family gives him, and in a painful manner he begins to isolate himself and lock himself within his belief that he is failing them. Gregor shows his feelings when he says, “But he felt as if he was nailed in place and lay stretched out completely confused in all senses” (Kafka 48). It’s fair to experience mass confusion when the people that mean your life, turn there back on you and treat you like a worthless human being. The emphasis on being stretched out and then being nailed, gives the indication that Gregor has truly opened his arms and has given everything to this family; but even then its not satisfying to his family. Gregor’s inability to be perfect hences at his family’s reaction and rejection of his being, and no matter his efforts and work, ever last bit of it seems to fade away as its washed down an unforgiven drain.
In The Glass Menagerie, Tom is surrounded by family members that constrain his freedom through their dependence upon his income. From the outset of the play, Tom’s mother, Amanda, makes it clear what she expects from her son, such as providing for the family, finding his sister a gentleman caller, and maintaining his health unlike his alcoholic father. Tom is obliged to stay with his family in a home that he describes as a “two- by four” where “the rear of the building, one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of lower middle-class populations and are [is] symptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society” (Williams 1). Williams uses a description of the setting to establish Tom’s prison-like view of the Wingfield apartment. The apartment is apart of “vast hive-like conglomerations” which conveys the orderly systems like that of a beehive where the bees “impulsively” fly in and out of their nest monotonously under the jurisdiction of the queen bee. The bees live and die for their colony; they are “enslaved” objects of mere work and production. Likewise, Tom serves his family as it is the only thing he is expected to live for. However, unlike Gregor, Tom is able to escape his confinement through his self-generated desire. Amanda harps Tom with orders and complaints, such as how she continuously tells Tom, “You smoke too much." (Williams 10). Yet Tom doesn’t care, because he “likes it [smoking].” Tom neglects his family’s agenda, and he does what he wants on his own account. When Tom returns home one night very late, Laura scolds Tom for making such a ruckus, reminding him not to wake his mother, he shows no remorse. In fact, he enjoys the idea of irritating his mother, “Goody, goody! Pay’er back for all those ‘Rise an’ Shines’” (Williams 27). Tom’s excitement in annoying his mother can be traced to their history of fights and his desire to return her rotten mood. Tom is upset with the fact that he must walk on eggshells among his family, but that they pay him no respect in return. This is similar to Gregor’s family dynamic in that Gregor provides for the household and earns the same lack of low level of respect as Tom. Tom could care less about his mother’s actions or feelings. Ergo, though he feels trapped by his living arrangements, he doesn’t let this stop him from doing what he wants. Furthermore, Tom looks forward to things in life. He enjoys poetry and has dreams of living an adventurous life and seeing the world. One of Tom’s hobbies is going to the movies late at night, a habit his mother strongly opposes. Tom exclaims,“Yes, movies! Look at them- All of those glamorous people-- having adventures-- hogging it all...goody, goody! It’s our turn now, to go to the south Sea Island- to make a safari-- to be exotic, far-off! But I’m not patient. I don’t want to wait till then. I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move!” (Williams 60). Tom’s enjoyment of the movies shows his appreciation of certain concepts; he grants himself the individual power to like/dislike, do/avoid, the things he wishes. At the end of the play, Tom recognizes he must leave in order to save himself. His decision to walk out on his family- like that of his father- was an act of self-preservation. He knew that if he stayed, his dreams of living an adventurous life would be destroyed. Thus, he abandons his family responsibilities in order to life a satisfactory life for himself. If Tom had stayed with his family, he would have ended with a life similar to that of Gregors: monotonous, emotionally dead, and a servant to everyone but himself.
In the beginning of the novella, a description of Greg turning into a bug is presented to the reader. On that same page, Gregor’s room is described, "a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully between its four familiar walls." (Kafka 1). In “between its four familiar walls” Gregor has lived his entire life. He has been shaping this room for years, everything it consists of is by Gregor’s doings, every small detail; what kind of furniture is in it, what is hanging on the walls. Even though Gregor is not a human anymore, he still does not feel the full effect of this abrupt change. Even with his new flattened out body and limp legs, Gregor still has the mind of a human. So the surroundings that he made match his old self. But, Kafka includes another message of how quite the opposite. If one uses a different lens to view the writing, he or she can see that the surrounding is in fact, shaping Gregor. Having this “proper human room” makes him follow the whole “human” routine. He did not really choose to be this way; the limitations of the room forced him to be “average human”. This interaction shows the Ying Yang of a human and his or her surroundings; one completes the other in a way, and together they change depending on what life throws at them. This concept is evident throughout the whole novella.
The authors of both books use symbolism to show their characters’ growth and self-awareness of who they truly are. The objects the authors chooses to represent their characters are the items that are the most precious to the individual. A symbol that represents Laura would be her Glass Menagerie. Her glass figurines are all something precious to her. Something that is pretty but forever kept on shelf. Laura is treated in the same way. Amanda says, “Resume your seat little sister. I want you to stay fresh and pretty. For gentlemen callers!” (Williams 7) Laura’s menagerie are constantly polished and waxed until they shine. However, they are fated to a life on the shelf where only few people can see it. Laura is a beautiful and quiet person. She is timid and is terrified of people. Because of this, she is stuck within her own home unable to escape. The people who are able to see her splendor, are already in her confided space. She is stuck at home, unmoving, and non-active. Doomed to remain on the shelf. Another example of how the menagerie represents Laura is how innocent she is. When one thinks of glass they think of something that is pure. When asked if she has ever like anyone before she replies “yes I liked one once. I cam across his picture a while ago.” (Williams 17) This answer is very innocent. She as only like one person in all of her life and continues to look at his picture. She does not base her attraction on physical appearances but characteristics as well. For twenty-year-old women to only like one person is a great feat. Another thing that people think of when they see glass is fragile. Laura has suffered from an illness that leaver her incapable to walk normally. Because of this, Laura is immensely self-conscience about her appearance and stops her self from truly living life. She once said, “but mother- I’m crippled.” In this quote, Laura is not physically fragile but mentally. She realizes that she does not think she is able to accomplish things because she is not confident in herself. She does not see herself as anything beyond a cripple. She has allowed her deformity to take over her life and rule her decisions. A symbol that represents Grete in Metamorphosis would be her violin. Grete’s playing is her way of escape. Gregor planned on saving money to send her off to music school so she would not have to worry about money and could escape the dreary place of their home. However it was much more than that. When one thinks of beautiful music we often think of passion. “yet his sister was playing so beautifully. Her face was turned to the side, her gaze followed the score silently and sadly.” (Kafka 62)
The music represents Grete’s situation it’s self. Her music is “beautiful” and carefree and yet her face does not show it. Instead, her face shows sadness. Grete longs to be out into the world playing music and yet she is trapped in her little house. Her face reflects the household that has been weighed down by constant problems. Yet her playing is one of hope within herself. She knows that one day she can be free. Music also has the ability to draw people together. It has the ability for different people with different views to join together and enjoy. Gregor was able to hear Grete’s playing from his room and creeped out to listen. “For him it was as if the way to the unknown nourishment he craved was revealing itself to him. He was determined to press forward right to his sister, to tug at her dress and indicate to her in this way that she might still come with her violin to his room” (Kafka 62) Her music represented the last lingering connections she had with her brother. It represented the last bit of faith that her brother could come back. But alas, all good music must end. It cannot last forever. Grete, realizes through her music and violin that she cannot wait for her brother to come back. The whole family must move on without him in order for them to grow and support themselves on their own. She realizes that in order for them to successful in life, they must give up on what they previously thought would make them normal and happy again.
Here, Kafka has again used an outdoor setting to convey the state of mind for Gregor: “Then he crept up on the window sill and , braced in the chair, leaned against the window to look out...Actually from day to day he perceived things with less and less clarity, even than a short distance away...he could have believed that from his window he was peering at a featureless wasteland, in which the gray heaven and the gray earth had merged and were indistinguishable” (Kafka 35-36). In this quote it is somewhat obvious that Gregor’s state of mind was influenced by the cold and foggy weather. The writer describes how Gregor “perceived things with less and less clarity”, and though it really describes how Gregor is seeing the world (in a completely normal and non-symbolic way) it can easily be seen that his mind is as cloudy and unclear as the outside world. This shows that the author chose to create such a setting using Gregor’s current thoughts and emotions to create a scene in which the setting and the character are equal. The author also describes the world Gregor is looking at as “a featureless wasteland” meaning Gregor perhaps sees his own mind as barren or empty and forlorn. A wasteland can also be seen as an area in which a sort of battle had taken place leaving behind a deafening and frightening silence in a very destroyed setting. This shows that Gregor had very mixed feelings throughout the beginning of the book and is now calm in an unnerving fashion. The author chose this use of setting and choice of words to show to the reader how Gregor’s mind has developed throughout the book.
In driving Tom and Gregor in opposite directions of their lives, their parents contribute the most towards these crucial decisions. Amanda tells Tom why he needs to work at the warehouse. She plants a feeling inside him, “I know, but it’s not good for you. We have to do all we can to build ourselves up. In these trying times we live in, all that we have to cling to is - each other…” (Williams 31). Tom’s parents put this idea in his mind that he has to be part of his family. His mother tells him that they are one whole and they can’t be any different or apart from them. This plants the weakness in Tom and it also plants the idea that he needs his family in order to have successful life. His father plays a role in this as well because he is the force that pulls Tom away from his family. He sees that he does not have to stick with them forever just like his father decided he did not want to as well. This drives him away from his family. Similarly, with Gregor’s parents, their ways do the opposite. They influence him into believing that he is not supposed to do what he wants. “If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would’ve quit ages ago I would’ve gone to the boss and told him just what I think from the bottom of my heart. He would’ve fallen right off his desk!” (Kafka 3). On the other hand, Gregor’s perspective of his parent’s ideas are different. They drive him towards staying in the family and he feels that it’s the right thing to do for himself. It is not because he often feels the need to do things and says that he will, but never does. This is his weakness because he often backs down from what he feels is the right thing rather following those thoughts. Also, when his parents tell Gregor’s sister to play the violin for the lodgers, Gregor sneaks in to listen to her play. The lodgers spots him and points him out to the family. This creates irritation and chaos in the family. Gregor’s sister, Grete, says “‘We must try to get rid of it,’ the sister now said decisively to the father...it’s killing you both.” (Kafka 65). Gregor’s parents had gotten angry with him which made him feel as if what he did was wrong. He did not do anything wrong but because his parent’s words mean so much to him, his human weakness takes over and overpowers his own true feelings. He does not realize that his family was overreacting by making a big deal of his appearance, which pushes him to starve himself to death. He does not see that he is not wrong for doing what he wants and by punishing himself for doing that, his future does not end up like Tom’s. No one was there to show him it was okay to do something he decided. It is not wrong to follow your desires and wishes. Thus, Tom’s and Gregor’s family have similar impact on them, yet, they both go in different directions.
The concepts that Laura embodies are further carried on in the last pages of the script, but one must first understand how Tom plays an almost identical role in the drama. As Jim and Tom are waiting for Amanda and Laura to set the dinner table, Tom stirs up a small conversation. He proclaims, “Yes, movies! All of those glamorous people –having adventures –hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches” (Williams 61). Tom gauges his success through the adventures and accomplishments in his life. His constant trips to the bars and movies every night are attempts to stimulate happiness by adding variety to his current, monotonous routine. Tom’s poems, which also result in his job termination, display his passion for diversity and discovering the aspects of life one might be blind to in a warehouse. Tom grows tired of watching movie stars simulate scripted adventures on the screen, and decides to seize control of his life and create his own adventure. In the final monologue of the play, Tom narrates:I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further – for time is the longest distance between places. I descended the step of this fire-escape for a last time… attempting to find in motion what was lost in space… The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches… Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!.. anything that can blow your candles out… For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura- and so goodbye… (Williams 97).Tom eventually learns that no amount of bar drinks or movies could alleviate his restlessness. By throwing himself headfirst into the outside world, Tom sought to satisfy the part of him that yearned for adventure and to provide the opportunity for himself to expand. The imagery of “brightly colored leaves” are described to demonstrate the excitement and triumph that results from Tom’s step of audacity. However, the only thoughts lingering in Tom’s mind are that his sister may still be confined back in their home. Tom tells Laura to “blow out her candles” as that is the first step towards self-realization and liberation. By blowing out the candle light that Laura has developed under, she places herself in an existential darkness, or uncertainty. Nevertheless Laura must now search deep inside to discover and create her own source of light. Though this step is daring and requires courage, the newfound source of light that Laura unearths will be original to herself, lasting until her final breath.
A person can trap someone, but that person who cages someone in is also confined within their need to have complete control. Both are victims in a way, and when they find there is no way of getting out of these cages, they ultimately turn to death in the hopes of being liberated. Williams writes, “A fragile, unearthly prettiness has come out in Laura: she is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting,” (Williams 51). Laura’s beauty isn’t her own. She is blocked from being herself by her mother’s needs for her to be the perfect daughter her mother always dreamed her to be. Similar to “a piece of translucent glass”, Amanda projects into Laura and polishes her to put her on display for others. Laura lives through Amanda’s vivacity, but Amanda lives through Laura’s temporary youth. No matter how much Amanda shines through Laura, no one will know who Amanda really is. They are both victims, confined to their own shelves like the glass pieces, either shining with someone else’s light or shining their light through someone else. The person who holds the glass is in control of how long it gets to shine, and because of this, the holder is trapping the glass, forcing it to shine exactly the way they want it to. The holder is constrained though, by how much light is able to shine through the glass. Hey can try to shine as much light through it as they want, but a piece of glass is made with a limit to the amount of light that can shine through. The holder, thus, cannot do anything about this. Likewise, Amanda can control whether or not Laura is an image of her, but she can’t control how much Laura acts like her since Laura wasn’t made to be a replica of Amanda. Consequently, Amanda becomes trapped within this need to have Laura completely submit to being a carbon copy of her. So, like glass that has relinquished all of their control to someone, people who let themselves be controlled by someone else are set up to become like the person who lives through them. Similarly, people who try to mold someone to be exactly like them are ensnared within their need to have their own personalities completely dominate someone else’s. People who fall under this trap are prevented from living as themselves. When people realize their need for freedom and have gone through all the escape routes they can think of, they will turn to death as the answer. Amanda tries to escape from Laura by trying to find her a gentleman caller; Laura tries to escape from Amanda by playing with her glass menagerie. They both do not succeed in their search for an escape, and consequently, their souls are the ones that die in the end, forever trapped within each other.
Kafka writes, “As soon as she entered, she ran straight to the window… and yanked the window open with eager hands, as if she was almost suffocating, and remained for a while breathing deeply, even when it was still so cold,” (Kafka 36). By breathing through Gregor’s window, Grete is, in a way, living through Gregor. She only opens it when she’s close to suffocating, taking Gregor’s fresh air almost parasitically. Grete lets the air rush into the room as long as she needs it to and she completely disregards Gregor’s well-being by only opening the window for herself and trapping the stale stench of air inside when Gregor’s the only one in the room. Gregor is then trapped by both the closed window and his sister because she chose to leave the windows locked. People who drain the life out of others do this to assert their control over someone. They want to come back into a room knowing they’re the only ones who can open the “windows”. Towards the end, Kafka narrates, “From the window he witnessed the general dawning outside. Then without willing it, his head sank all the way down, and from his nostrils flowed out weakly out his last breath,” (Kafka 68-69). Through the window, Gregor could witness the dawn of yet another day, but he was prevented by the glass from going out and experiencing it. While the sun rises, it dawns on him that he is really unhappy and realizes how he is trapped under the needs of his family. He realizes there’s no real escape, and in the end, he chooses to die slowly. His death then becomes another attempt at escape, but Gregor is not successful because his soul will always stay trapped with his family behind the glass of his picture frame. In the end, people will turn to death as a means of escape, but people, like glass, imminently take the final fall off the shelves they are set on and shatter completely, only to find that even broken in so many pieces, they are still pinned under something they can never successfully break away from.
Both mothers are so constrained by their roles, they begin to lose sight of reality. They also lose how to be a true mother. In Metamorphosis, Mrs. Samsa enjoys the idea of being a mother but she fails to grasp the reality of it and actually be a mother to Gregor in his time of need. Amanda from The Glass Menagerie attempts to be a mother, actually both parents, but she fails to meet what her kids need from her. This failure to meet the expectations stems from the disgrace both women face. Amanda is disgraced because she has fallen from her role as a Southern Belle, her husband left her and she now has to work a diminishing job as a telephone sales lady. She was once so great and now she has to work a pitiful job because she is trying to reclaim the past, she does not see how things are now. Mrs. Kafka is a disgrace in the reader’s eyes; she focuses more on what she needs rather than what her son needs. She is disgraced due to her selfish needs which causes her to provide for her sons needs. Even though it may seem selfish, she cared about herself which is important. In the end, Mrs. Kafka is free through her son’s death which further brings up disgust within the reader. Even though she is free through terrible consequences, she is happy. Amanda sees herself as a disgrace to her family which causes her to disconnect with them and to live a life in which she feels trapped. Even though Mrs. Kafka should have put her child's needs first, as mothers are supposed to, she attempts to do that but she can’t because she is more focused on herself. While some people say putting yourself before your children is bad, in her case it freed her. People are so quick to pass judgement based on what a person should do and how a person should act based on their gender. Putting ourselves first has always been seen negatively in our society. It’s considered selfish and inconsiderate. Society tells us to place needs of our partners and children before ours. Amanda did everything for her children, even if she did it poorly, but in the end, they resented her and left her for her efforts. Mrs. Samsa wanted to be there for her son but she couldn't, and she was happy in the end. Mrs. Samsa ended up saving herself, instead of her son. People need to realize that is needed to put yourself first. You are the only person who will be there for you. It’s important to not allow people’s stereotypes to bound you to what you should be. The people are not going to be there for you, only you will.
In the Metamorphosis, as Gregor’s confinement isolates him from society, he utilizes different objects to assist him as he figures out how they make him feel better about himself. Gregor begins to think that his sister and mother are cleaning up the possessions that he has in his room. He begins to grow weary and anxious because he doesn’t want his items to be taken away as they keep him close to being human. One item that he quickly tries to save and hide would be the picture of the woman in the fur coat. Kafka describes,“Then he saw hanging conspicuously on the wall… He quickly scurried up over it and pressed himself against the glass that held it in place and which made his hot abdomen feel good. At least this picture, which Gregor at the moment completely concealed, surely no one would now take away.” (Kafka 43-44). This quote signifies how Gregor’s instinct of normality appears as he holds onto the picture of the woman in the fur coat. When he quickly says, “no one would now take away,” he knows that even though his human personality and human figure have been utterly altered, he realizes that in order to retain a part of his human self, the picture since it is something that holds his human identity still intact. It’s that item that makes Gregor feel as if he is normal as he reconciles with the picture that retains his morality as a human. Afterwards, when Gregor begins to look out of the window in his room, he feels as though peering through the glass helps him regain parts of his normal life back.“Then he crept up on the window sill and, braced in the chair, leaned against the window to look out, obviously with some memory or other of the satisfaction which that used to bring him in earlier times.” (Kafka 35). This realization makes Gregor see that he needs to look at the window to be able to see the normal reality that he used to have in life. Looking out the window creates a memory for when he used to take care of his family financially before he transformed. He reminisces on the life he once had when he was still a human being. When the word “satisfaction” is used in this quote, it explains that contentment is something he had in the past and that looking out the window comforts him by making see back to the times where he felt as if he was the normal figure back then. Gregor feels satisfied as he peers through the window because he is able to see beyond his miseries. He feels comfortable every time he sees through the glass which emanates the happiness that he had.
Later on, as Gregor begins to feel more accustomed to his own new body, his isolation from his metamorphosis gradually dims as he feels normal settling himself on the ceiling. Kafka explains, “He was especially fond of hanging from the ceiling. The experience was quite different from lying on the floor.” (Kafka 38). Gregor’s isolation begins to dissipate as he begins to disregard his physical attributes onto the ceiling. The ceiling makes him feel more like himself as he’s taking advantage of his insect form by hanging up there. Gregor as a human, felt normal while walking on the floor, but his transformation guides him to feel normal by crawling up the ceiling. As he hangs up there, he then feels a pulse of joy quivering through his whole body. Kafka says, “It was easier to breathe, a slight vibration went through his body, and in the midst of almost happy amusement which Gregor found up there.” (Kafka 39). This quote describes how happy he feels with the “amusement” he has from the ceiling. Kafka ignores the physical abnormality that he is acquainted with by making himself feel normal. When he said “it was easier to breathe,” it shows how Gregor is able to let go all of that stress and isolation that was placed on him by his family’s negligence. He was able to breathe out the weight lingering from him as he begins feel more at ease hanging on top of his room. It also shows how he feels like he is able to breathe out his confinement from his room since he now feels normal in his current position living in that one place. Furthermore, this specifies how Gregor attains to the feeling of normality as he finds different objects to support him.
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