Story Comparative Essay
There are several differences and similarities of Franz Kafkas’ Metamorphosis and Leo Tolstoys’ the death of Ivan IIych. Both indicate lifestyle bourgeois that mental and bodily suffering accompanied. Both books have characters that experienced existential crisis which they were able to resolve before dying. Apparently, the suffering described in these books was experienced by the authors. The books give a description of the way two men were struggling to succeed in the society that was causing mental depersonalization to them. They were also desensitized by the society. However, both of them opted to pay the expensive cost of breaking from it. This cost was death and both characters paid it. Mental problems as well as the eventual death of the two characters are discussed in this paper.
There are similar protagonists in these novels because they were living artificial lives. Although they made the other people to perceive them as living a comfortable life, the reality is that they were always struggling. These characters adopted such lifestyles even when they hated their experiences. Gregor and Ivan had mental illnesses. Both of them were craving for others’ approval. They also had a tendency of lacking a resolve for asserting their convictions. These authors also depict the protagonists as weak men subservient of the society’s expectations. Ivan is determined to impress others. He lives as per the standards of an upper class legal man of his age. Ivan was living beyond his means while trying to satisfy this desire. He incurred debts while trying to fund this expensive lifestyle.
There is a point where he says that nobody knows the kind of injustices that life has done to him. Due to depersonalization, he lives beyond what he can afford in order to please others. The protagonist’s mental illness is apparent from the start. His life is pretentious during his childhood because he pretended to be happy. Being neutral indicates that he was seeking approval while struggling from the inside. According to the author, there were times when Ivan did disgusting things and then tried to keep them hidden. This can also be seen in the final moment when the window frame hurt his head after slipping but he kept this a secret. Only after being reduced to a state of a vegetable does he confess this to others.
According to psychological perspective, these are indications of mental problems. The wife that Ivan married was not the woman that she loved. She married her as a way of conforming to society’s norms. He did not have self-will and this could determine his actions. Apparently, his problems were added by the wife since she was always complaining and nagging him. He also kept denying that in his life he was mostly suffering. To impress the workmates, he was dressing expensively regardless of his economic state which was poor. He bought a décor for his house so that he could impress the workmates. During the last days, he did not struggle to live because he was paranoid. His feeling was that he was a family burden and therefore he chose to die. This is indicated in a statement that he made to the daughter and the wife when he told them that they ought to be happy since the burden will be gone soon. He feels that he is hated by his family and the doctor.
Ivan reflects on his life and it does not impress him due to the choices that he made. At some point he laments that all life that he lived was a waste although it is late to change things. This is good because it shows that he has learnt his mistakes. It is also at this point that he learns that he had been living a lie and he accepts that he was not in love with his wife. The hatred’s depth is indicated by sending the wife away. This indicates that he has recovered from the initial state of living to impress his society. It is clear that he has realized the essence of making right choices. He is also given opium by his wife and this kills him and it indicates the hatred that she felt for the husband. The last chapter indicates he experiences immense pain. He acknowledges that there is no need for hating his daughter and wife. This is when he apologizes and informs them that he no longer hates them.
Grogor was also living as per the expectations of the people. His belief was that all family needs should be met by the most capable family member. He was not relating with the others since he was confident in his ability to solve his problems. Being a salesperson made him complain because he was not earning enough money. He has a clearly poor livelihood as he states that he is exhausted of consuming miserable food. Gregor complains that he is tortured by his superiors but he has to keep working there in order to meet the needs of his family. Gregor is living for his parents because he is struggling to pay debts for them. He does not like his job though he knows that it is necessary because it enables him to cater for his needs. This can be seen from what he told his superiors about the job enabling him to provide support to his sister and parents.
Similarly to Ivan, Grogor suffers from mental problems more so because he is holding up the true feelings because he does not want trouble. He says that he wish that he could walk right to his boss to express how he feels but he holds this back so that he can keep his job. He is also not himself to his family because he is also afraid of seeking assistance from his sister with domestic chores. His pretence affects his identity because he has internal conflicts that cause him mental torture. Finally, he became a monster when many legs are spread in front of him.
In both stories, depersonalization affected the characters’ personality. It forced them to admit living inappropriately. These characters admitted showing artificial sides to others while hiding their real secrets within themselves. This caused internal conflicts which led to identity crisis. During the last moments, the characters came face to face with the truth. Gregor admitted living his life shallowly while Ivan accepted that he was not alive in his entire life. His final words show this. They symbolized the reality that he would start a new life after death. The way these characters die is the major difference between them. Ivan died while being surrounded by a nurse and his family who were attending to him. However, Gregor was alone. This was the case for him even after sacrificing his entire life just for other people.
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