We are defined in life by the series of transformations we undergo. In Franz Kafka’s, The Metamorphosis, the main character, Gregor, experiences a transformation from a man into an insect. In Kate Chopin’s, the Story of an Hour, the main character, Louise, transforms from a married woman into a free woman when she is under the impression that her husband has passed away. A theme common to both stories is the relationship between the mind and body. Kafka suggests that the mind can remain the same, despite changes to the body, whereas Chopin suggests that the mind and body are intimately interlinked.
From the perspective of the stories other characters, the condition of Gregor’s mind is far less significant than his outward appearance. Despite the fact that Gregor has provided for his family, once he transforms, it becomes clear that he was only valued for his earnings. Gregor’s family stiffened at the thought of having to return the favor and chose not to see beyond his exterior. To elaborate, Gregor’s sister, Grete degrades Gregor, implying he is less than human, when she stresses how “human beings can’t live with such a creature” (Kafka 134) and later refers to this creature as an “it” (Kafka 134). Likewise, the lodgers who reside with “such a neighbor as Gregor next door” (Kafka 131) often associated him with filth, overlooking the condition of Gregor’s state of mind. In contrary to the other characters attitude towards Gregor, Kafka proposes that the state of mind does not intertwine with the body and shows this through Gregor’s own experience.
Gregor’s mind whirls with confusion with what is a thoroughly human and realistic reaction in an unrealistic scenario. Gregor’s own body repulses him as he saw “his numerous legs ...
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...n the form of death, either by Brently or Louise.
In the course of “The Metamorphosis”, Kafka suggests that the mind is independent from the body, whereas Chopin continuously reiterates how the mind and body dictate one another. However, with both authors ending their stories in the form of death, they collapse the idea that the mind can continue on a journey, separate from the body’s. The sources of struggle for the two characters are different. It is impossible for Gregor to satisfy his families demands while it is impossible for Louise to remain married or unmarried; for the two characters, the last and only viable transformation is death.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” The Complete Works of Kate Chopin (1969): pp.
Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories (1971): pp.
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