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Animal Symbolism in A Doll's House and The Metamorphosis

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Animal Symbolism and its Symbolical Use in A Doll's House and The Metamorphosis Ashwin Betrabet IB Junior Literature Mrs. Marciniak May 23, 2006 In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, and Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, animal symbolism is used to describe the protagonists and their relationships within their families. However, both authors use animal symbolism in different methods to exemplify these relationships; while Ibsen uses nicknames to describe Torvald's condescending view of Nora, Kafka uses a transformation to show how Gregor has turned into the person he is inside. Both authors use these methods to clearly demonstrate the characters' personalities and characteristics, they way they are viewed by their loved ones, and how they interact with other people. In A Doll's House, we get a clear picture of Nora's daughter-father relationship with her husband, Torvald, through the use of belittling animal nicknames, which he seems to think suit her. Throughout the play, we find Nora acting like a child; she secretly takes macaroons, she constantly begs Torvald for money, and she shows off to her friend, Kristine Linde. These are characteristics typically seen in children, and Torvald exemplifies these characteristics in her by calling her nicknames such as "my little skylark," (Ibsen 1), and "my little squirrel," (Ibsen 2). In The Metamorphosis, Kafka uses a transformation to reveal Gregor's personality. ...read more.


This indicates a sexist attitude towards Nora, which furthers the father-daughter relationship they obtain. However, Gregor faces a different torment. After his family sees that he has turned into a cockroach, his mother shuns him, and his father beats him. Gregor's sister seems to try to help him at first; however, we later find that she considers him a burden on the family and wants him to leave. When Torvald receives the letter stating that he and Nora will be safe, his change in attitude marks the antithesis of their parent-child relationship. Before he receives the letter, Torvald is furious with Nora for illegally borrowing money from Krogstad, even though it was used to save his life. Similarly, before Gregor undergoes the metamorphosis, he is praised as the breadwinner of the family and is treated like a human being. However, after his transformation, he is shunned by his family, and his father abuses him, for he is now useless to the family as he is unable to work. Torvald says "Now you have ruined my entire happiness, jeopardized my whole future," (Ibsen 76) expressing his anger towards Nora, as she is no longer his "little skylark," but the person who has ruined his life. ...read more.


At least I can't stand it any longer." (Kafka 124). This contrasts her former care for her brother, as she cannot bear to look after a bug. "He must go. That's the only solution, Father. You must just try to get rid of the idea that this is Gregor... If this were Gregor, he would have realized long ago that human beings can't live with such a creature, and he'd have gone away on his own accord." (Kafka 125). Grete has thus turned on her brother, ending their relationship for good. Animal symbolism is used in A Doll's House and The Metamorphosis to portray the characteristics of Nora and Gregor, and to show how they interact with their families, using different methods. While Ibsen uses nicknames to create a father-daughter relationship between Torvald and Nora, Kafka takes a more direct approach by having Gregor physically turn into a cockroach, exemplifying his inner self, and thus affecting his status in his family. However, although both authors use different methods, both are displaying the emotion felt by the protagonists and the journey they take throughout the novels. In this way, they have both used animal symbolism to describe the changes that take place in the protagonists, whether internally or physically, and how they have affected their relationships. ...read more.

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