Patriarchy in Kafka's Metamorphsis and Asian Cultures

Essay by Ayanami ReiCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 1996

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(Although most cultures cannot be generalized with certain behaviours, however, certain

Japanese traditions and values are common to all their people and is taught to them from

a very early age. The practice of having the son of a family to look after his parents, as

mentioned later, is common to both Japanese and Chinese cultures.)

In our studies of European literature, we can see that patriarchy, that is, the

supremacy of the father in a family and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in

the male line, plays a major part in family life. However, the institution of patriarchy is

not just limited to European cultures. In this essay, we will examine the instances of

patriarchy in 'The Metamorphosis' and compare it to instances in Japan.

In the beginning of 'The Metamorphosis,' we can tell from the way Gregor's

family is organized that Gregor is the 'father figure,' in that he is the primary

breadwinner and the one who makes most of the decisions for his family.

On page 1781,

we can see Gregor thinking that me would 'take charge of the family's affairs again,'

hence showing that before he turned into a bug, he was the dominant person in the family.

He is the only person in the family who actually goes out to

earn money. His father has already retired, while his mother and sister, following the

standards of that time, do not go out and work. Gregor is the only one who goes out

as a traveling salesman, and is responsible for earning money for the whole family.

His father stays at home and only 'lies wearily buried in bed'(1778) while Gregor

goes out on business trips. From this, we can see that Gregor has taken over his father's

responsibilities as head of...