Egoism Vs. Altruism: Universal Human Traits in Eliot and Kafka Essay

Egoism Vs. Altruism: Universal Human Traits in Eliot and Kafka Essay

Length: 1196 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The author Dr. Irwin Edman opens his 1920 book Human Traits and Their Significance by noting that throughout civilization “two factors have remained constant” (ix). One of these factors is “the physical order of the universe”—or Nature—and the other is “the native biological equipment of man”—or human nature (ix). Together these two ideals have formed modern civilization—as Dr. Edman puts it “there is nothing new under the sun. Matter and men remain the same” (ix). Since the beginning of time there have been essential human traits—inborn distinguishing qualities--common to every society and time period. This commonality is shown in no better way than through characters in literature. Literature has the ability to mirror the society that it was written in, and by surveying this literature readers are able to discover universal human traits displayed by the characters.
American-born writer T.S. Eliot became famous in 1922 for his poem The Waste Land. The poem was highly regarded for its “poignant expressions of the alienation and despair” of the time (224). Eliot is viewed as a master of portraying “stagnation and estrangement” (225). In his early masterpiece “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” composed around 1911, Eliot “addresses a middle-aged man’s anxiety over the passing of time and his own aging” while pondering the meaning of human existence (Longman Anthology 225). The main character of Prufrock is critical of his own society and focuses on the passage of time in his own life. Prufrock examines the passage of time in lines 23-34, in a way that is similar to Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:
And indeed there will be time
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time t...

... middle of paper ...

...end all civilizations.

Works Cited
“altruism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2011. Merriam-Webster Online. 19 April 2011. .
“egotism.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2011. Merriam-Webster Online. 19 April 2011. .
Eliot, T.S. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Volume F. Ed. David Damrosch. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2004. 224-228.
Hadot, Piere. The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. tr. by M. Chase. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998.
Edman, Irwin, PhD. Human Traits and Their Social Significance. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Volume F. Ed. David Damrosch. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2004. 257-288.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Altruism Is Not Their Selfish Desires

- Generally, a basic definition of altruism would be, “actions intended to benefit others,” (Kassin, Fein, & Markus, 2014, p. 423). This behavior is said to exist in a selfless form. It is meant to reflect an individual’s character and their true intentions within their heart. For some individuals, this act of selflessness may cost them to lose or give up something (Barasch, et al., 2014). However, their good deed outweighs their selfish desires. In most cases, this selflessness, “was motivated by honor, duty, kindness, goodness, compassion, or that [one] acts with integrity or because [one] is virtuous,” (Beardman, 2012, p....   [tags: Altruism, Selfishness, Person, Emotion]

Strong Essays
1238 words (3.5 pages)

The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka Essay

- In Franz Kafka 's novella The Metamorphosis many ideologies and personal family relations are examined and brought to light. These include views of existentialism and estrangement, both of which that are demonstrated by Gregor 's personality and his family members. Many of these elements are found in Gregor’s personal affairs, as well as how he goes about enduring his metamorphosis. The strife in which Gregor and his family share has a particular Id, Ego, and Super-Ego-like quality to it, which later blends into a theory discovered by Freud years later....   [tags: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Psychoanalysis]

Strong Essays
815 words (2.3 pages)

Franz Kafka's Novella, The Metamorphosis Essay

- One of the saddest aspects of Franz Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis, concerns the fact that young Gregor Samsa genuinely cares about this family, working hard to support them, even though they do little for themselves. On the surface, Kafka's 1916 novella, seems to be just a tale of Gregor morphing into a cockroach, but, a closer reading with Marx and Engels economic theories in mind, reveals an imposing metaphor that gives the improbable story a great deal of relevance to the structure of Marxist society....   [tags: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis]

Strong Essays
1197 words (3.4 pages)

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Essay

- In this paper I will interpret the short story, The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. My purpose is to explain to my classmates the short story’s goal what Kafka wanted to transmit to people. I want to expand more why this short story is considered one of the best poetic imagination works. In my research I expect to use Kafka’s work, The Metamorphosis as my primary source. Important other sources include essay critiques from different editors, which will help us to understand much more what Franz wanted to express....   [tags: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis]

Strong Essays
1099 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on The Personality Traits Of Personality

- Daft study (as cited in, Spalding University, 2007), “Personality is a set of characters and processes that establishes a relatively stable combination of behaviors in reaction to ideas, objects, or people in the environment.” Personality is what makes us unique for it influences individual patterns of thought. It also affects our reaction to different life experiences and situations that may arise. The way, in which we relate to others, receive and appreciate things, says a lot about who we are as an individual, depicting various forms of personality traits....   [tags: Big Five personality traits, Trait theory]

Strong Essays
713 words (2 pages)

How Convincing Is Evidence That Altruism Truly Exists? Essay examples

- How convincing is evidence that altruism truly exists. Psychological theories have long postulated that behaviours are incentivized by self-interest, with people only desiring their own well-being (Sober & Wilson, 1998), a phenomenon known as egoism. However, recent research suggests that the concept of egoism is flawed, and evidence for the existence of altruism has become recognised. ‘Altruism’ was established by Comte (1851) and can be defined as a motivational state aiming to increase another’s welfare, without any expectation of reciprocal benefit....   [tags: Altruism, Kin selection, Evolutionary psychology]

Strong Essays
1605 words (4.6 pages)

The Causes of Altruism Essay

- How do humans actually behave when faced with the decision to help others. The innate desire that compels humans to help is called altruism by psychologists. Through this feeling, humans transform from a selfish jerk to a more compassionate and caring person. Some psychologists believe that this feeling stems from nature itself. Despite the fact that some altruistic acts originate from the pressures of society, altruism predominantly comes from the survival of the fittest, the feeling of empathy, and the selfish desire to benefit your own kin....   [tags: Psychology ]

Strong Essays
1151 words (3.3 pages)

Essay about Marxist Perspective on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

- Marxist Perspective on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis On the surface, Franz Kafka's 1916 novella, The Metamorphosis, seems to be just a tale of a man who woke up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect. But, a closer reading with Marx and Engel's economic theories in mind reveals an overarching metaphor that gives the improbable story a great deal of relevance to the structure of society. Gregor Samsa, the protagonist, signifies the proletariat, or the working class, and his unnamed manager represents the bourgeoisie....   [tags: Metamorphosis essays Kafka Marx]

Strong Essays
1813 words (5.2 pages)

Essay about Kafka's The Trial

- Kafka's The Trial Comparing Franz Kafka with a more modern author, such as J.K. Rowling, is much like comparing Wilt Chamberlain to Kobe Bryant. It is extremely difficult to compare these two NBA stars when they played sixty years apart from one another. There are so many factors to consider including: the quality of coaching, competition, etc....   [tags: Kafka Trial]

Free Essays
1199 words (3.4 pages)

Altruism Essay

- Why do we show altruism. Social and evolutionary biologists, psychologists, economists and philosophers alike have made many attempts at providing an explanation for altruism. As a result, many opposing theories have developed over the years. In this essay, I will attempt to explain altruism as the presence of an altruistic gene which is selected for by natural selection in terms of kin selection. I will explore evidence supporting this theory, as well as evidence pointing to psychological explanations such as reciprocal altruism, social norms and primitive sympathy....   [tags: Psychology]

Strong Essays
1080 words (3.1 pages)