Three brilliant novels-The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-present an indispensable contribution into the world literature of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. All of them are written by the authors who earned their fame with a great number of literary works, and are full with emotions caused by numerous social interrelationships of the heroes. The aforementioned works by the stated above authors are full with lively situations that help to a great extent understand and analyze the real similar situations that happened in the lives of the readers.
The Metamorphosis is a story by Franz Kafka about a man named Gregor Samsa who one day wakes up to find himself “changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin”. The mutation occurs the night before in his “unsettling dreams” and appears to be solely physical because Gregor maintains all of his human mental capacities. At the beginning of the novel Gregor works in a company as a traveling salesman. He hates his job, but he is forced to work there in order to support his family-his father who became bankrupt, his mother, and his sister Grete, who was the closest person for him in the world.
Gregor may be in separation emotionally from his family before his metamorphosis even takes place. Gregor’s locked door indicates that Gregor was previously removed from the Samsa circle of family union. The physical aspects of Gregor’s room, such as the confined feeling that the furniture creates, is a microcosm of Gregor’s life. The furniture traps Gregor in his room, just as the Samsas have trapped Gregor for financial stability. The only source where Gregor receives love after his metamorphosis is from his sister.
One example which expresses Gregor’s craving for love appears directly after he wakes up. Kafka writes, “In fact, Gregor felt fine, with the exception of his drowsiness, which was really unnecessary after sleeping so late, and he even had a ravenous appetite” (Kafka, 5). The hunger that Kafka is feeling is really not a hunger for food, but for love. There are several instances in which Kafka reveals Gregor’s hunger in The Metamorphosis. Gregor’s sister, Grete, temporarily extinguishes Gregor’s hunger for love when she feeds him.
The food that Grete feeds Gregor is a metaphor for the love that she is giving him. Another aspect of human relationships that Gregor lacks is understanding. Nobody really knows who his true self really is. Gregor’s metamorphosis reveals many of Gregor’s subconscious thoughts. Lack of understanding between him and his family is evident in his thoughts regarding his new speech. Kafka writes, “It was true that they no longer understood his words, though they had seemed clear enough to him, clearer than before, probably because his ear had grown accustomed to them” (Kafka, 13).
The phrase “clearer than before” shows that Gregor only begins to understand himself after his metamorphosis is complete. Even though it may seem as if Grete might be able to comfort Gregor forever, she betrays him in the latter part of the story. Her first sign of duplicity is when she moves out his furniture. Kafka writes of Gregor’s thoughts, “They were clearing out his room: depriving him of everything that he loved; they had already carried away the chest of drawers, in which he kept the fretsaw and other tools” (Kafka, 35).
The furniture in Gregor’s room is one of the only things he has left that makes him feel like his old self, and Grete is taking it away from him. Also, the fretsaw, which is Gregor’s only hobby, is removed along with the chest. The moving of Gregor’s furniture is not even the most aggressive sign of betrayal. Grete’s announcement of her increasingly growing dislike for Gregor is too much for him to bear. She says, “I won’t pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, and so all I say is: we have to try to get rid of it” (Kafka, 51).
Soon after Grete loses hope for Gregor, he dies. Heinz Politzer says in his work Franz Kafka: Parable and Paradox that Gregor is a slave of his family until his metamorphosis frees him (Politzer, 276). There is one statement in The Metamorphosis that blatantly represents Gregor as a material object instead of a human being. Kafka explains to the reader, “He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone” (Kafka, 5). The Metamorphosis shifts the emphasis of the story from Samsa’s difficult to dramatized first-person point of view to that of his bewildered family.
This production, rather than treating Samsa’s transformation as literal, presents him as an emotional wreck who has a mental breakdown that causes him to believe he is a bug. Jane Austen’s novels have always been popular because they introduce the reader with the world which the author has created, and that world, as well as the characters who live within that world, seem to be so real, that one can almost imagine oneself in the character’s shoes. Mansfield Park was written between 1811 and 1813, although it did not appear in print until 1814.
It is an even more socially-aware novel than Austen’s others, focusing as it does on the slave trade and the roots of the British upper-crust’s wealth in corruption and exploitation. It is probably the least romantic and most pragmatic of Austen’s novels, as its abrupt and rather matter-of-fact ending shows. All the novels by Jane Austen possess significant complexity of the characters. Mansfield Park is not an exception to this fact, being an enormously complicated novel. The theme of the novel is similar to the other works by Austen-a young woman named Fanny Price tries to find her place in a complex social order.
Fanny comes from the poor family but is raised by the rich aunt and uncle. At the time the novel was written, the society was clearly divided into social layers which identified the richer and the poorer classes of the society. It was very difficult for a person from the lower layer to become a part of the upper one, and every social misstep of the lower class member was severely punished while the same misstep of the upper class member could be easily forgotten. The only way for a woman of that time to ascend the social ladder was a successful marriage.
However, the issue of social status is not the primary theme explored in the book. The novel’s deep insight concerns the inner part of the human character, whether the ‘nature’-the innate qualities of a person-or ‘nurture’-the environment-is a real determinant of a character. The majority of the book’s heroes-Fanny and her relatives, and Mary and Henry Crawford-are ambiguous figures in this sense. All of them grew up in different households and it is unclear exactly what factors made them what they are. Because of this a lot of debate arises in the book.
For instance, Edmund is subjected to the internal struggle regarding his feelings to Mary and is trying to justify her behavior. People can change-this was what the book showed at the end, however it depends on a person, some people can never change. Clearly, by the end of the novel, both Sir Thomas and Edmund have learned something, and the role Edmund has played in forming Fanny’s mind (and, to a lesser extent, the influence Fanny has exerted over her sister Susan) speaks to the capacity of some individuals to change for the better.
Others, like Maria and Henry, never seem to learn. Urban and rural settings are used as backdrops for this debate, with the suggestion being made that city life promotes vice and inhibits one’s moral development, while growing up in a country house exposes a child to all that is good. The Bertram daughters and their oldest brother complicate this, though. The novel ends with a marriage, the only way for a woman to ascend the social ladder, as mentioned above. Nevertheless, the reader does not see anything else from the married life afterwards.
Mansfield Park hints at the essential ambiguity of knowledge. Austen cannot give a complete account of Edmund and Fanny’s entire life together, so she leaves things hanging. On the other hand, Fanny’s marriage has fixed her social position, and she is no longer a single, unpartnered woman, so Mansfield Park has achieved the two major goals of a nineteenth-century novel. In its ambiguity about nearly everything else, however, Austen’s novel is revolutionary. True to say, the point of view in the book actually moves around.
There is a relative absence of an omniscient narrator, and the relative lack of guidance; as with Emma we are left to make what we can of many of the dramatic narratives throughout this opening volume where Fanny is not immediately present, say the dialogue between Mary and Edmund over whether Fanny is out. The readers group has already been puzzled by how they are to take it. The narrator gives no explicit clue. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is another story of the life of a young woman named Jane Eyre.
The novel depicts the child’s maturation and further focuses on the numerous emotions and experiences that follow her growth to adulthood. There are five distinct stages of development of Jane Eyre’s plot: Jane’s childhood, her study at the Lowood School, her time she spend in Thornfield as a governess of Adele, the time she spent with the Rivers, and her reunion and marriage with Rochester. Jane’s encounters with ghosts, dark secrets, and sinister plots add a potent and lingering sense of fantasy and mystery to the novel. Like in the Mansfield Park, the issues of social class are stressed in the given novel.
Jane Eyre is critical of Victorian England’s strict social hierarchy. Bronti??’s exploration of the complicated social position of governesses is perhaps the novel’s most important treatment of this theme. Jane is a figure of ambiguous class standing and, consequently, a source of extreme tension for the characters around her. Jane’s manners, sophistication, and education are those of an aristocrat, because Victorian governesses, who tutored children in etiquette as well as academics, were expected to possess the “culture” of the aristocracy.
Yet, as paid employees, they were more or less treated as servants; thus, Jane remains penniless and powerless while at Thornfield. Jane’s understanding of the double standard crystallizes when she becomes aware of her feelings for Rochester; she is his intellectual, but not his social, equal. Even before the crisis surrounding Bertha Mason, Jane is hesitant to marry Rochester because she senses that she would feel indebted to him for “condescending” to marry her.
Jane’s distress, which appears most strongly in Chapter 17, seems to be Bronti??’s critique of Victorian class attitudes. Jane herself speaks out against class prejudice at certain moments in the book. For example, in Chapter 23 she chastises Rochester: “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! -I have as much soul as you-and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. However, it is also important to note that the nowhere in Jane Eyre are society’s boundaries bent. Ultimately, Jane is only able to marry Rochester as his equal because she has almost magically come into her own inheritance from her uncle.
Again, it is very important to have in mind the fact of who narrates the story. All the events presented in the story are narrated from the Jane’s point of view. When she narrates her story, she often tells the events in the present time, while there were numerous instances of her telling the events in the retrospective way.
Jane Eyre’s tone is both Gothic and romantic, often conjuring an atmosphere of mystery, secrecy, or even horror. Despite these Gothic elements, Jane’s personality is friendly and the tone is also affectionate and confessional. Her unflagging spirit and opinionated nature further infuse the book with high energy and add a philosophical and political flavor. Jane does not only describe events as they had occurred, but also incorporates her present evaluations of the episodes.