Effects of Loneliness and Isolation in the Short Stories “Metamorphosis” and “the Yellow Wallpaper”

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Effects of loneliness and isolation in the short stories
“Metamorphosis” and “The Yellow Wallpaper”

In Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the

reader can easily see demonstrated the effects of the alienation and loneliness both of the main

characters experience. The feeling of loneliness and the state of alienation leave the characters changed

from who they were and manages to completely alter their lives in almost every imaginable way. Each

main character is faced with certain circumstances that inevitably lead them to a point in their lives

where they are completely alone and left dealing with extreme situations pretty much all by themselves.

Each of the characters have people in their lives that love them yet there is a certain wall up or lack

of understanding that keeps them from being able to share their struggles with their loved ones.

In Metamorphosis the main character Gregor was an introvert who also seemed to be a

workaholic. Gregor did not have many friends that he socialized with. His days were spent working and

on his evenings he stayed in. Gregor’s mother while talking with his boss states, (pg323) “The boy thinks

of nothing but his work. He nearly drives me to distraction the way he never goes out in the evening;

he’s been here the last eight days, and every single evening he’s stayed at home.” Gregor was already a

loner before his harrowing transformation into a hideous beastly insect. The transformation led him to

be unable to communicate with his family. Gregor’s human mind was still intact even though

he was a tremendous insect. He was left stuck inside his new body with only his own thoughts to

entertain and harass him. Being stuck inside yourself like that must be an almost unbearable situation to

be in. It is like being both mute and deaf with no way of interacting socially with other human beings.

His family quickly began to lose sight that he was still inside the new bug body, and pretty much just

locked him in his room. They at least remembered to feed him, but showed him no other concern or


any other form of personal interaction. Gregor was left to try and figure out his amazing new circumstances alone.

He was left with a feeling of guilt, due to his being unable to work. Gregor felt an obligation to

contribute to his family financially and to help them recover from previous debts owed. Strangely,

Gregor does not obsess about the fact that he has physically changed into a completely different form. His only real concern is that he is no longer able to go to work and make money. It is almost as if his entire

human life revolved around his working and providing for his family. The transition to insect life was

lonely and unpleasant being that he was stuck with his thoughts about how he was no longer able to do

as he had always done, provide for his family. Gregor, being transformed was stuck in circumstances

that led to him being completely alone and alienated from all he felt comfortable with. The internal

struggle suffered by Gregor throughout the story led to him becoming depressed and complacent, which

inevitably led to his premature death. Without being able to fulfill his previous obligations, Gregor felt

useless and that he was a burden to his distanced family. He eventually gave up on life rather than try to

continue his transformed existence in complete solitude, while alienated from his loved ones and his


The new mother in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” also experienced many unpleasant side effects of

loneliness and alienation. The young mother was diagnosed by her doctor-husband, with (pg473)

"temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency," which was a common diagnosis for

women in the time period in which the story was written. John, the...
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