Gregor Samsa and the Old Man

Topics: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa Pages: 6 (2085 words) Published: April 13, 2013
The Dominant Role of Society
Often times, literatures depict the notion of society’s overwhelming authority and influence towards individuals who contradicts the ‘accepted’ norm. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka and Gabriel Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” for instance, illustrate the inferiority and the undeniable cruelty the two protagonists receive from society as a result of their conditions. Gregor Samsa and the Old man are parallel characters, whose fates are thrown into an environment where society’s authority serves as a major factor in both their struggle to attain acceptance. Both the protagonists ‘unusual’ appearance sprouts discrimination from society, which enables negative interactions from other individuals. Likewise, society’s abandonment of Gregor and the Old man, despite their generosity, serves as major influences to their struggles to attain acceptance. Although Gregor Samsa and the Old man’s existence prove to be a factor that contributes to the tranquility of other individuals living, both protagonists still experiences neglect and abandonment from society, despite their numerous contributions. In the case of “The Metamorphosis” for instance, Gregor Samsa’s decision to allow his passions to remain in the shadows while he continues to pursue a “strenuous profession”(Kafka 394), in which he perceives as a burden, proves his selfless character as only centralizing towards his family’s wellbeing. However, despite his contributions to his family’s tranquil life, his transformation into an awful ‘vermin’ sprouts disgust and hate, leading to his family overlooking all his hard work. The text states, “I shouldn’t give up hope altogether: once I have the money to pay off my parents’ debt – it should be another five or six years—I’ll definitely do it. Then I’ll make my big break” (394). Apart from Gregor’s desire to provide a comfortable living for his family, he also longs for freedom and independency, in which he metaphorically achieves in his metamorphosis. However, as Gregor attains his longings, society deems him as a one who proves no useful function any longer, thus resulting to his alienation and cruelty he receives from society. Furthermore, as society gains its own backbone to provide for itself, they begin to see the protagonist as merely an object of annoyance. This is illustrated when the text states, ““They were emptying out his room; they were taking from him everything he held dear” (410). By taking away the furniture’s, in which his reminder of his human form remains intact, society is allowing Gregor to adapt to his new foreign body. Their desperate attempt becomes a catalyst to Gregor’s own dehumanization. In the end, the barrier that society forms in order to isolate Gregor leads to his death, which on the other hand symbolizes society’s success in getting rid of an insect that brings burden to the family. Despite Gregor’s contributions in his human form, the Samsa family overlooks his efforts, thus failing to acknowledge the burden they inflicted to Gregor in his human form in comparison to the affliction Gregor’s condition brings to them. On the contrary, the Old man from “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, also proves to have the “virtue of patience” (Marquez 327), despite the poor treatments he receives from society. For instance, before the Old man appears in the lives of Elisenda and Pelayo, the couples were on the verge of poverty and losing their infant son. The Old man’s presence, however, allows the family to recover, thus leading to the cure of their son and a more comfortable living. Yet, Elisenda and Pelayo’s treatment towards the Old man brings the notion of the coexistence of cruelty and compassion. For instance, the text states, “Then they felt magnanimous and decided to put the angel on a raft with fresh water and provisions for three days and leave his fate on the high seas” (325). Although Elisenda and Pelayo provide shelter for...
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