Kafka and Alienation

Essay by NeonFxHigh School, 12th grade February 2004

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(Please see The Corpse by Joshua Gonzalez aka NeonFx)

Kafkaesque: Alienation

To be alienated is to be separated from a society because of differences between one's being and that of an average person of that society, or because of differences between one's ideas and morals to those of the collective mind. Franz Kafka's works have been recognized as symbolizing man's alienation and/or prosecution in an indifferent world.

The Metamorphosis(1915) and The Hunger Artist(1924) by Franz Kafka are two examples that I will use to demonstrate this point. In The Metamorphosis a traveling salesman living with his family wakes up one morning to find that he is now a giant insect. His family is displeased and, by keeping him locked in room and increasingly ignoring him, the salesman/insect finally dies, seemingly from alienation. In this short story there are several occasions in which he seems to be completely alienated by his father, but just as many occasions in which he is not by his sister.

The salesman/insect finally dies, when the last person that cared for him the least bit, his sister, alienated him. The salesman/insect realized this when he heard her tell their parents that the insect must go. When the closest people in the salesman/insect's life turned against him, surviving as a bug for life became impossible. And upon hearing this, he went back into his room, and went through hours of reflection before his head dropped down to the floor at 3 in the morning.

The main character in The Hunger Artist takes a very different approach to alienation. This short story tells the about a professional faster, his techniques, his great achievements, his popularity and the increasing alienation due to his choices. The hunger artist has very different views, he lives for alienation. He lives to be...