Authors use many ways to transcend reality such as imagery, point of view, setting and plot. Some of the great authors of all time use the perfect literary types of writing to create a masterpiece of literature. Some of the great literary types, which are used by many great inspiring authors, are symbolism and Existentialism. Albert Camus and Franz Kafka, in their works present many criticisms of society, however Camus uses existentialism to present this in The Stranger and Kafka uses symbolism to present this in The Metamorphosis.
In both books symbolism is presented throughout the book however it is more noticeable in The Metamorphosis than in The Stranger. In The Metamorphosis Kafka puts "When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin."(3). Kafka used the vermin to symbolize Kafka as a lower human being that is not capable of any emotions or thoughts that a human can be capable of.
He feels too overwhelmed by all the problems around him he turns in to this bug to get away from it all and this is how people see him, a person who cannot provide for another or cannot speak on his own behalf but has to be cared for and tended to. In Camus' book he writes, "The sun was the same as it had been the day I'd buried MamanÃ¢ÂÂ¦"(58). The sun symbolizes something bad is about to occur or already occurred. Such as the sun was the same when he buried his dead mother and now it's the same red-hot sun when he kills the Arab. The sun symbolizes hate and evil things to occur where Meursault is around. Kafka writes, "Then, without his consent, his head sank down to the floor, and from his nostrils streamed his last week breath"(54). This shows that Gregor was dying in a physical way and spiritually. Physically his body weakened and felt the torture over the years and failed him. He breathed for the last time and then shut down. Spiritually his spirit was crushed. He was thought to be unintelligent and uncaring. His father did not respect him nor does his mom or sister. He worked long hours in a dead-end job for money he thought they needed but they already had it. This symbolism is very important in showing the many struggles Gregor Samsa had to overcome. In The Stranger Salamano's dog symbolizes his love for his wife. Since she died he got this dog to keep him company and to remember his wife. The dog symbolizes the troubles they have been through but in the end they always love each other and get along. Another literary element found in both, but mostly in The Stranger is existentialism. Existentialism is the philosophical idea that humans can change their surroundings. Also are in control of their own emotions and create their own future.
Existentialism is however more apparent in The Stranger than in The Metamorphosis. In Camus' book he writes "My whole being tensed and I squeezed my hand around the revolver. The trigger gaveÃ¢ÂÂ¦ Then I fired four more times at the motionless bodyÃ¢ÂÂ¦"(59). This shows that Monsieur Meursault shot the Arab man first because he thought the Arab was about to attack. Then he shot four more bullets because he had a choice and it was his own personal thinking that affected this. In Kafka's book he writes "I'd better get up, since my train leaves at five"(4). This shows that in order to make money he must work very hard for very little pay. He makes the choice to work so he can help out his family but he would rather do something else. So it is his choice that keeps him doing this job. In Camus' book, he writes "Ã¢ÂÂ¦ and asking me if I believed in God. I said no"(69). It was his choice to say this. Even though it would have helped in his case he did not want to lie about his beliefs. He doesn't care what happens to him and he wants to be killed in front of everyone and it is his choice to not believe in God and to die in front of everyone. In The Stranger another example of existentialism is when Meursault says "I agreed to act as a witness for him"(37). This shows that it was his choice to act upon what just happened. Meursault says he will act as a witness so he can get other people to like him and not feel isolated any more. He also wants to be a good friend and he had nothing more to do.
Also in Camus' The Myth Of Sisyphus shows many examples of existentialism such as how it was Sisyphus' choice to go back to Earth. He knew what the consequence would be if he went there to see his wife for one last time. He was caught and sent to the mountain to push the boulder to the very top for all eternity. He could have chose not to do this also but he did keep trying to push the rock up the mountain. This shows how everyone has choices and it is up to them to make them. He chose what he was supposed to do for life and took it. Also it has symbolism in the short story. Sisyphus symbolizes an absurd hero. He symbolized many of man's struggles in life and proved to be what mere men could not do. He stood up to the Gods, which made him a demy-god in a way. He knew what would happen but did it anyways. This symbolization proves to be very interesting and to make some in a total state of awe. He was what many wanted to be and a deity to some men. This proves that symbolism and existentialism can be both in the same book and it is very hard, but there is some example, to not find any existentialism in any book. This is so true because it is in most books because the characters in those books each have a choice to do this thing or that thing. Everyone in their lifetime has a choice to pick and this is what existentialism is all about.
In conclusion even though two books can be from different pars of the world such as one was made in France the other in Russia, you will still be able to tie the books together simply by the writing style of the authors. In Camus and Kafka's books people have themselves learned that these two books are tied by existentialism and symbolism and these two literary devices are used throughout the books. These two devices make the books present many criticisms of society and it is easy to see that it might even be the basic structure that each author based their books on. It is evident to see that others are also displayed but not as much, and not as powerful, as symbolism and existentialism have reached the readers and choke them with such detail and in a way that it feels like a book that many can relate to. The criticisms of society presented give such vivid details. It seems that the authors have a vocation for this. These two devices relate to every day life and it shows how it can be used by anyone. The moon can symbolize many things to many different people. Such as it can be said as mysterious, it shows how one person can light up their surroundings and make the best of it. Also saying that the ocean can mean many things. It can symbolize happiness, good times, and bad times, how something so beautiful can be deadly, also what little we know of from the ocean. Existentialism can also be used in daily life from the simplest questions such as, what should I pick, coke or water? Or to a huge choice such as, should I marry her? Each choice is followed by two or more answers that each own individual can, based on their own personal beliefs, make. These two devices being used present many criticisms of society such as how everything can have more than one meaning and can be told in the person's own way. Also how everyone has choices and it's their own actions that follow the choices they make. No matter which book is being talked about it always has some connection to another book. All books can be linked together at some point or time during the book. These criticisms in The Metamorphosis and The Stranger each link together and affect society as a whole. These books can be thought of as inspiring, uplifting books that can change lives. Both books can change lives and they both present criticisms of society in their own ways but they both try to say it in the same way so it can be understood better by all of us.
Word Count: 1500 Works Cited Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans: Matthew Ward.
New York: Vintage International, 1989.
The Myth Of Sisyphus.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Trans: Stanley Corngold.
New York: Bantam Classic Edition, 1986.