Existentialism Kafka And Dinesen Analysis

712 Words3 Pages
Young Kwang Shin
Ms. Aubrey McNary
World Literature
17 September 2014
Existentialism in Kafka and Dinesen Existentialism has found its way into almost every conceivable medium of self-expression. since its inception. Literature us no exception; in fact, one could say the essence of the existentialist ethos, one of endurance when faced with the sheer absurdity of the cosmos, was never better captured than in the novels, poetry, and short stories written during the turn of the century. Yet just like the movement itself, existentialist literature embodied its philosophy with tremendous heterogeneity, the pivotal difference being one of tone. Franz Kafka 's seminal classic, 'The Metamorphosis ' is a penetrating, tragic study of Man 's imminent
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‘The Metamorphosis’ details the story of Gregor Samsa, whose remainder of his life as a grotesque insect serves to depict the nihilistic implications of cosmic meaninglessness. In the story, Kafka expertly crafts the tale within the context of the 19th century European middle class. By doing so, he accomplishes two objectives. First, he paints Samsa as the everyman, universalizing the story’s message. Second, he demystifies meaninglessness by circumscribing it within relatable set pieces, portraying nihilism as imminent as people like the nuclear family (like that of Samsa) is common. Kafka’s other achievements are just as impressive; he transforms Samsa into something unrecognizable and strips away his normalcy. The latter demonstrates the fragility with which society, represented by Samsa’s family, endeavors maintain the thin barrier between it and the void of meaning, while the first is a literary parallel. To elaborate, the title, ’The Metamorphosis’, doesn’t just refer to Gregor. It is an accusation on all men and women, to Grete, to Gregor’s parents, to the lodgers, and even the boss, an accusation that everyone undergoes the ‘Metamorphosis’ when one is separated from one’s values. Indeed, the thematic brunt of the story is that Man can and will be alienated from his values, just as Gregor was from his status as his kin’s caretaker. Finally, by providing a darkly comic ending of the family enjoying life after their son’s and brother’s demise, Kafka underscores…show more content…
Whatever ray of hope is absent in ‘The Metamorphosis’, Dinesen includes in her own short story ‘The Pearls’; all the while, she doesn’t abstain from humanity’s gloomy reality. Kafka’s theme of alienation resurfaces in the tale of the frantic Danish newlywed, who cannot understand her groom’s blithe disposition and becomes more and more anxious as the world around her becomes more and more chaotic. Her increasing anxiety culminates in the alleged theft of the treasured pearls, obvious symbols for the values of the old world. However, here, Dinesen adds a twist: the pearls were never stolen. This element injects yet another existentialist tenet into the story’s subtext: the primacy of personal responsibility. Dinesen, like the Father of Existentialism and fellow Dane Søren Kierkegaard, asserts through the story that no matter how absurd the world becomes, one must maintain his or her center and establish personal meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. The final image of the newlyweds standing together to greet guests is therefore especially potent: it is the portrait of one who has learned to love herself and thus love others, whose newfound solace and solidarity gives her the power to face the world and its

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