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A discussion on the transformation of protagonists in The Pigeon by Suskind and Metamorphosis by Kafka.

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Session: November 2004 ENGLISH A1 WORLD LITERATURE ASSIGNMENT 2A School: The Kilmore International School Topic: A discussion on the transformation of protagonists in The Pigeon by Suskind and Metamorphosis by Kafka Candidate Name: Brenton Mckiterick IBII Candidate Number: bzt874 Word Count: 1602 In both Suskind's The Pigeon and Kafka's Metamorphosis the main character undergoes a dramatic change. The transformation of the protagonists within the two novels is an approach by the two authors to convey the message that life is not simple; it is unpredictable and cannot be forged into a routine and orderly structure. This is portrayed through the absurd lives of the protagonists, who encounter situations that expose the complexity of leading lives confined to simplicity. Transformations occur, depicting their struggle against the concept of unpredictability and inability to take control of events unforeseen. These transformations are portrayed with the underlying notion that the characters are heading for mental and emotional self-destruction, however in the case of Metamorphosis, the change is depicted through an actual physical transformation that serves to amplify the fragility of Gregor Samsa's relationship with the family and his self-imposed isolation from the world, rather than a purely introspective emotional response to the world such as that of Jonathan in The Pigeon.


This use of symbolism constructs the bridge between Jonathan's former life and his new life. Kafka's underlying message in the transformation is that life was chaotic and he portrayed this through family relationships and distinctly through Gregor; where his metamorphosis is symbolic of his isolation from society and the dehumanized life he led, lacking meaning, warmth and joy, "The only amusement he gets is working with his jigsaw - Gregor's mother"8. He had a home and family, though he still found his life to be unrewarding. Gregor was the dependent source of income for his family; however he isolated himself from society like Jonathan. Gregor literally acquired a shell to protect him from the world and escape from the life he resented re-living. He awakens one morning transformed into a gigantic insect: "he was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his dome like brown belly divided into stiff arched segments"9. Jonathan endures a transformation that ultimately refines his role in society, however in the case of Metamorphosis, Gregor's transformation results in his fatalistic demise. Jonathan's disintegration begins when he is forced to face the pigeon, for the fragility of his ordered life crumbles with the unexpected arrival of a bird.


- Cleaning Woman ". The disintegration and struggle experienced by the protagonists in Metamorphosis and The Pigeon differs as Suskind's portrayal of Jonathans' struggle concerned him challenging his fears of society and obsessive application of structure to his life. In the context of Gregor, his disintegration is portrayed through his struggle to re-integrate into the world, and chiefly his inability to do so as his stature is transformed into a figure symbolic of disgust and repugnance; issues his society could not comprehend or accept. Both the authors of The Pigeon and Metamorphosis aim to express their similar views on issues in society through the protagonists of their novels. This is effectively employed using transformations undergone by the protagonists to convey their underlying messages. Basically, their message is that life is not simple, in the case of The Pigeon Jonathan Noel tried for the entirety of his life to make it routine and orderly, but it collapsed with a little pressure. Life cannot be molded into a predictable structure, for it is unpredictable, and no matter how hard the efforts are to do this, in the end life will prevail as a force that can never be laid out so simply. Jonathan in the end of The Pigeon emerged from his shell to join society once again, whereas in Metamorphosis, Gregor Samza was alienated and outcast for his differences, and tragically met his demise.

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