Obsession in A Hunger, The Penal Colony, and Metamorphosis

Obsession in A Hunger, The Penal Colony, and Metamorphosis

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In “A Hunger”, “The Penal Colony”, and Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Kafka succeeded in showing his individuals as obsessed with their profession; however their obsession caused their doom because society asks so much from an individual, only so much can be done. However, regardless of that, these individuals choose their work over themselves, and not even bad health or death can stop them. Because society places immures pressure on Kafka’s work obsessed character, they neglect their well-being and cause their own downfall.
In “A Hunger Artist” Kafka portrays the artist as an obsessed person with starving himself. Not even death matter as long as he gets that attention he wants from society. Kafka wants society to be the reason that artist became they way he is now. “He worked with integrity, but the world cheated [the artist] of his reward” (Kafka 144). The Hunger Artist no longer has anything significant in his life but the only thing that makes him the way he is because he wants the public’s attention. Society demands are high and not easy to achieve, to the point where the artist was the center of attention in big cities with beautiful girls waiting to help him come out of his cage. But now he is in small cage, neglected by everyone, even when it comes to fasting “no one [counts] the days, no one, not even the hunger artist himself, [know] his extent of his achievement” (144). In the end, the hunger artist body could no longer sustain himself after the long-lasting fast, however society was moving on and he was not. Society was the downfall of his life, wanting public attention is not easy with a cruel society that demands change and new entertainment.
In “The Penal Colony” the life of the officer is solely based on the old commandant’s rules and ideals. His strong obsession of being “involved in the very first experiments and also [sharing] in the work all the way to it completion” (96) Has a deep impact on the officer’s life and beliefs. The officer is not only obsessed with his work but with the old ways that the old commandant made. Also, the fact that he is the last one in the colony that still follow the old ways means that he is going against the whole society in the colony. The new commandant “uses everything as an excuse to attack the old ways” (105).

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However, the officer is using every means possible to keep the machine and not get rid of it. The officer takes pride in what he does. Though, with society putting enormous pressure to take away the machine, the officer desperately tries to convince the foreigner to agree with. However, when the society and even with the traveler refusing such an inhuman machine, his hopes were shattered, only that was left was “the judicial procedure that was dear to the officer was truly near its end” (116). The officer is choosing to die for the sake of his profession and he wishes to die with the work he loves rather than see it ruined by the new ways of the new commandant. Society pressure was the downfall of the officer, since nothing matters more with the machine not being there.
In Metamorphosis, even with strange circumstances, Kafka portrays Gregor as an obsessed worker, even after he transforms into giant beetle. All he can think about is work since “he had not once been ill during his five-year employment” (8). It would be strange for him no go to work. However, his family keeps knocking on his door asking him to hurry to work. His family depends on Gregor for money and “they convinced themselves over the years that Gregor [is] set for life at his firm” (18). Kafka is showing how despite his metamorphosis, the character in the story ignores unusual circumstances and is only thinking about what he can do to help his family and not himself. Family in Metamorphosis is his society and it keeps pressuring him to do the impossible. He thinks that he is the only source of living for his family and keeps trying to try to resolve things. However, Gregor is no longer needed by his family; he overexerted himself with his family’s problem and forgets about his. Although he knew he was not needed by his family, “his thoughts full of tenderness and love, went back to his family, he [is] even more firmly convinced than his sister […] that he should disappear” (48). Gregory’s faced his dome because of family and that was his only society. It was the only thing that made him alive. However, when that society has no longer need for him, he gave his life thinking it was for the best and to finally “put the past to rest” (51). Kafka shows how the family is moving on and with the “daughter [jumping] to her feet and [stretching] her young body” (52).
Kafka shows that each individual shown in the examples above have ignored age heath, transformation and faced death for the sake of their profession. An Addition to that, they all faced the same fate because they wanted to satisfy society and meet its expectations. Work obsessed individuals have an enormous pressure from society demands and in the end they dead because they neglected the most important thing in life, themselves.

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