Comparative Essay: World Literature I: Analysis of the Setting Relating to the Isolation of the Protagonists

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Franz Kafka, in his novella “The Metamorphosis”, and Harry Mulisch, in his novel The Assault, uses dark, lonely diction and imagery to create the isolation within the protagonists. The setting symbolizes how the protagonist’s isolation continues to enlarge throughout the book. At the beginning of both the novels, the setting is more open and light, which is compared to the characters’ isolation that is less bordered and complex. As the settings grow smaller and the characters become lonelier, Anton and Gregor’s isolation become more pronounced. Gregor is gradually becoming isolated by his family causing his transformation to progress rapidly, while Anton’s family is growing, but his isolation is conflicted upon himself, causing the setting to continue to encase them, emphasizing the effects that their isolation takes on them.

The beginning of “The Metamorphosis”, started with Gregor’s transformation and the reason behind it. Gregor shows his first signs of isolation while he was still a human, as a traveling salesman. Gregor isolated himself as he was always alone and away from his home and family when he was working “a grueling job [where he’s] in day, day out, on the road, [having] the torture of traveling… no relationships that last or get intimate” (Kafka 4). The setting at this point was symbolizing the freedom of being a human, but trapped within the city, as he must leave his family to work to provide for them. As the book progresses the setting changes along side with the protagonist. In the middle of the story, the setting symbolizes the progression of the protagonist’s isolation. Such as, Gregor has transformed into a roach and has been completely isolated from the outside world and his family, besides his sister. Aft...

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.... The setting causes Anton to shield himself from the ones he loves and to keep his feelings to himself, by slowly closing in on himself inch by inch, as he is afraid to love anyone and lose them as he did when he was younger.

Although Gregor differs from Anton, as he is being isolated by his own family and Anton isolates him from his own past, the both end up being alone and encased in their physical surroundings along with their mental thoughts. The setting plays a key role in the novels by connecting the surroundings in which showing how the protagonists isolate themselves from their own thoughts and memories from the people around them.

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” The Metamorphosis. Trans. And Ed. Stanley Corngold. New York: Bantam Books, 1972.

Mulisch, Harry. The Assault. Trans. Claire Nicolas White. New York: Pantheon Books, 1985.

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