Hicks Tomko English 1102 Spring 2012 The Rebels of Society: Gregor Samsa and Equality 7-2521 Gregor Samsa, the protagonist of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Equality 7-2521 of Ayn Rand’s Anthem both rebel against their individual societies. They are extremely different in that Gregor does not become a rebel by choice, while Equality comes up with a new invention and boldly goes against the social normality of his society. A successful rebel not only should be defiant against their authority, but should also have a set of ideals that they hold to.
Gregor’s ideals include caring for his family, working arduously, and making money. Equality’s ideals are revolved around the society’s system of rules which are dominated by the idea of lack of individualism. Rather they are absorbed in the word “we” and collectivism. Gregor’s story is tragic because of his death in the conclusion, while Equality remains alive and builds a new city that will no longer include “we. ” Both Equality and Gregor are largely controlled by their rulers. Equality’s ruler is the council which controls every aspect of his life.
Gregor’s life is controlled by his manager, who goes to the extreme of checking in on him at his house when he receives the news that Gregor has not caught the five-o’clock train with the errand boy. Also, both Equality and Gregor feel pressure to conform to those that surround them in their lives. As protagonists, Gregor and Equality are brave rebels in their own ways. Although Gregor does not choose to metamorphosis into a bug, he does choose to be courageous in the situation. Equality is the stronger rebel who prizes his new invention of light and stands by his ideas until the conclusion of Anthem.
When we are first introduced to the character of Gregor we realize how engrossed he is in his occupation, as well as pleasing his family. It is obvious that he is unhappy with the manner of his job. He thinks to himself, “what a strenuous career I’ve chosen! Traveling day in and day out. Doing business like this takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on top of that there's the curse of travelling, worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them.
It can all go to Hell! (Kafka I). " The pressure he feels to keep up his job mainly derives from his family, whose debt he needs to pay off. “If I didn’t have my parents to think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think…let him know just what I feel. He'd fall right off his desk! (I)” Even after Gregor realizes his legs are not the same as his human legs he continues to ponder about waking up and getting to work. He looks at the clock, sees that it is already half past seven and wonders why the alarm clock had not rung. What should he do now? The next train went at seven; if he were to catch that he would have to rush like mad and the collection of samples was still not packed… (I). ” Although he knows he has transformed into another creature, his prime concern remains paying off his family’s debt, and arriving at work to satisfy his boss. Equality as well as the other characters in Anthem are required to perform the duties of the group they are assigned and refer to themselves as “we. ” He is assigned to be a Street Sweeper, but frequently has urges to go against what the council tries to force him to do.
He breaks his curfew and does not return to the theater like he is supposed to, name Liberty 5-3000 which is a sin, enter the house of scholars, and think of women when it is not the time of mating. When Equality speaks to Liberty, who he calls “the Golden One,” he knows he is being a rebel. He states “you are beautiful, Liberty 5-3000,” which shocks Liberty (Rand 42). We know that they are pleasantly surprised at being spoken to because “their eyes grew wider, and there was triumph in their eyes… (43). ” Equality grows tired of living in this world with no uniqueness or creativity.
Following his discovery of the hole in the earth, he continues to return every night when the Sweet Sweepers go to the theater and experiment with different tools, acids, and dead animals. Equality finds their niche in this secret hideaway and comes to a realization that he does not want to conform to the council’s laws any longer. He does not feel one bit of guilt for acting as an individual. “We say to ourselves that we are a wretch and a traitor. But we feel not burden upon our spirit and no fear in our heart (37). ” Gregor’s life unfortunately comes to an end after being starved to death by the cleaning lady and his family.
His body gradually becomes “dried up and flat” (Kafka III). His family does little to take care of him following their discovery that he has transformed into an insect. His family relied on Gregor heavily while he was alive, however now they are being forced to live on their own without Gregor’s income. Surprisingly though it seems like they are not suffering a great deal. “…Besides that, they had not been using up all the money that Gregor had been bringing home every month, keeping only a little for himself, so that that, too, had been accumulating (Kafka II). Because they are not using the money that Gregor provided for them, we get the feeling that Gregor’s existence means little to them. His sister becomes his main caretaker, providing him with food and water and then reporting to their parents how much he consumed. Eventually the cleaning lady becomes the main caretaker, although she starves him to death. He does not choose to become a bug, yet he decides to listen to the conversations of his family and think hatred thoughts toward his work. He rebels against his family, his boss, his work, and his life.
Not only does Gregor metamorphose into a bug, but he also causes his family members to metamorphose into new people. By the end of the story the family seems more optimistic that their current employment can provide enough money for the family to live off of and Grete has become a new woman. They are going to prosper despite Gregor’s rebellion and tragic death. Equality’s rebellion against collectivism ultimately leads to him creating a new world for him and the Golden One to live in together that is based on individualism rather than “we. He creates this new world with the Golden One, or Gaea, who has become pregnant with his child. During his long speech about his excitement of his new world he states “All my brothers and the Councils of my brothers, will hear of it, but they will be impotent against me (Rand 71). ” Clearly, his rebellion is at its peak and he is full of confidence that his brothers are to become powerless to him. Finally, he creates a sacred word which is “ego,” that can never be eradicated from the earth according to Equality, for “it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory (71). The discovery of his light is the thing that originally leads him to want to rebel. He is completely engrossed in showing his new invention to the Council of Scholars, where he is not allowed to enter. The only thing that brings happiness to Equality is individuality which he states repeatedly throughout the novel. “But the only things which taught us joy were the power we created in our wires, and the Golden One (86). Equality perseveres until the conclusion of the story with his strong-willed personality and is able to rebel against the collectivism society he is surrounded by.
Both Gregor Samsa and International are brave protagonists who have certain ideals that they stand for. The protagonists’ bravery allows each character do undergo a transformation as well as transform the people around them. Equality’s invention of the light bulb and eventual discovery of the abandoned house bring him complete peace and free him from his overbearing society. “For they have nothing to fight me with, save the brute force of their numbers. I have my mind (67). ” Equality’s life seems to have hope for continued improvement, whereas Gregor perishes and his rebellion ultimately only benefits his family.
His family acts as though his death did not matter and go on with hopes that they will be able to provide for themselves. “ Leant back comfortably on their seats, they discussed their prospects and found that on closer examination they were not at all bad - until then they had never asked each other about their work but all three had job which were very good and held particularly good promise for the future(Kafka III). ” Therefore, we can conclude that Equality succeeds more as a rebel than Gregor and will have continued success in the future with Gaea.