Compare and contrast - Part 6
Compare and contrast
The theme of the individual’s estrangement from their closest surroundings is among the eternal issues, put forth in literature, art and cinematography. In the present speech, I would like to compare the short story “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka to the film “Fly”, through the lens of alienation as a process, which consists of several stages and is either stimulated or thwarted by the resources of the closest environment.
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First of all, in both the film and the narrative, the process of alienation begins with the discovery of adverse physical changes - Compare and contrast introduction. According to Nabokov, quote “Gregor wakes up. He is alone. He has already been changed into a beetle, but his human impressions still mingle with his new insect instincts. The scene ends with the introduction of the still human time element” unquote (Nabokov, at http://victorian.fortunecity.com, 2001). Similarly, Seth, the protagonist of the movie, has purely human feelings once he discovers in himself unusual physical strength, which later appears the result of his experiment. These feelings are to great extent alike: although both characters are a bit shocked, both of them experience some positive emotions, as Gregor, for instance, smiles at the notion that nobody can force him to proceed with his job duties unless somebody carries (Kafka, at http://www.mala.bc.ca, 2003) him and thus feels relief because of the onset of the minimization of his responsibilities; Seth, in turn, feels great delight with his new abilities.
The second stage of alienation, however, occurs dissimilarly in the two characters, even though the general framework includes the isolation from the nearest and dearest. In “Fly”, Brundle intentionally turns away from Veronica, with whom he has been strongly infatuated before, whereas Gregor seeks support in the family, but becomes rejected by father, mother and sister. Thus, it is important to distinguish between the situations with the outside psychological resources: whereas Veronica, who acts as an inspirer and supporter, is truly eager to help Seth , who is gradually losing his reference points, Gregor’s parents and sibling feel disappointed and deceived given that their major source of material well-being has disappeared. Gregor, in turn, retains his curiosity about the family issues: quote “Gregor was extremely curious what she would bring as a substitute, and he pictured to himself different ideas about it. But he never could have guessed what his sister out of the goodness of her heart in fact did” unquote (Kafka, at http://www.mala.bc.ca, 2003). Greta, his sibling, feels nothing but disgust; all family members in general seem to have forgotten the young man’s devotion and commitment to their needs.
The phase of de-humanization occurs in both characters. At this stage, Seth Brundle has almost deteriorated, and his critical reflection upon his own nature reveals that he has developed weird and uncontrollable instincts. Driven these impulses, he imprisons Veronica in his warehouse and nearly kills their mutual friend, Stathis.Even though his intentions seem “humane” at the first sight, as his efforts are directed to the survival of his unborn child, it is possible to refute this argument with the fact that his actions are the result of the amplified reproductive instinct. Gregor, in turn, is forced by his family to lead animal existence and thus degrades to the dimension of the satisfaction of basic needs.
The final phase is probably the shortest, as it implies a single sparkle of humanity in both characters. At this stage, Seth begs his lover to end his existence with a shotgun in order to deliver the society and the woman in particular from the monster. Kafka’s Gregor at this stage also demonstrates love and admiration: he leaves his room, mesmerized by the melody Greta is playing, and after realizing that he is merely a source of troubles for his relatives, the character either commits suicide or dies of grief.
To sum up, the overall framework of the symbolic representation of psychological and social isolation through physical metamorphosis is similar in both works, and the only significant point of distinction is the agent of this alienation: in Kafka’s writing, the protagonist’s parents deliberately isolate him, whereas the main character of “Fly” himself ignores the empowerment his lover longs to provide.
Kafka, F. (2003). The Metamorphosis. Retrieved October 25, 2007 from http://www.mala.bc.ca/~Johnstoi/stories/kafka-E.htm
Nabokov, V. (2001). Lecture on “The Metamorphosis”. Retrieved October 25, 2007 from http://victorian.fortunecity.com/vermeer/287/nabokov_s_metamorphosis.htm