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In The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Gregors perception and behaviour towards his family are similar to that of Ill towards the towns people of Guellen as they are changed by Claire Zachanassians offer in The Visit by Friedrich Drrenmatt.

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Introduction

In The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Gregor's perception and behaviour towards his family are similar to that of Ill towards the town's people of Guellen as they are changed by Claire Zachanassian's offer in The Visit by Friedrich D�rrenmatt. Human interaction plays an important role in both books as Gregor and Ill spend most of their time studying the manners and lifestyles of the people around them. In Ill's case, this is seen more towards the end of the play; however this is noted throughout the whole of The Metamorphosis as Gregor's reactions are greatly determined by the family's behaviour. In fact, the behaviour of the characters surrounding Gregor and Ill is what eventually guides them to their death. Durrenmatt and Kafka emphasize this by creating a parallelism between the rise of the secondary characters (the town and the family) and the decline of the main characters (Ill and Gregor). However, Ill and Gregor react differently to their impending death, which stresses the importance of thematic context in both endings. Looking at Gregor's position, a number of actions carried out by his family contribute to his lapse. It appears he becomes more and more isolated by his family as they tolerate him less and less. For instance Greta's intentions to remove furniture from Gregor's room, which discomfort him, "Nothing was to be taken out; everything was to stay as it was; the positive influence of the furniture on his condition was indispensable" (120). ...read more.

Middle

While Gregor struggles in the decline against his family, Ill is in a similar situation with the town's people of Guellen: "Everyone's wearing new shoes. New yellow shoes." (The Visit, 49). This would actually imply everybody except for Ill, the sacrifice of whose life could restore the town and pay off any of its debts. Although the town has refused Claire Zachanassian's offer, Ill soon realises that the town's people are getting themselves into debt through unnecessary expenses, thus drawing them closer to considering Claire Zachanassian's offer: "The town's getting into debt. The greater the debt, the higher the standard of living. The higher the standard of living, the greater the need to kill me." (50) As Ill descends further and further into a frantic state, it appears that the number of people around him slowly increases until he is surrounded by the entire town who follow him to the train as he is about to leave. At this point, Ill seems very small as he alone is faced with the entire town: "(The citizens of Guellen flock around Ill)" (61). Although there is no evidence confirming that the town is setting any barriers for Ill to get on the train, Ill displays sentiments of confinement: "I know. I know. Someone will hold me back. Someone will hold me back." Ill implies that he feels powerless against the town's people whom he believes do not wish him to leave town. ...read more.

Conclusion

Ironically, Gregor reflects feelings of guilt though his own metamorphosis occurrs by no apparent fault of his own, whereas Ill takes time to confront his guilt inspite of his past wrongdoing. Although Gregor has suffered from his family's mistreatment and abuse, his last thoughts reflect his unconditional love and support, contrarily to Ill, who only considered the advantages his death represented for the town once they had decided to kill him. For Ill, it is more of a liability to die in order to benefit the town financially, as he owes them his life in return for indirectly causing them financial debt in the first place. Gregor, however, assumes it is his responsibility to die in order to liberate his family of moral discomfort and financial privation. As Kafka and D�rrenmatt use secondary characters to portray a decline of the characters Ill and Gregor, the estrangement of these characters is emphasized. In Gregor's case, it is his metamorphosed state as an insect and his behaviour which cause his family show fewer and fewer signs of affection and sympathy towards him. However for Ill, it is the town's desire to be restored to its once more affluent condition which causes them to treat him so insensitively before his extermination. While D�rrenmatt depicts the behavioural influences of the town's people on Ill, Kafka explores the influence of Gregor's behaviour on his family as well as that of their behaviour on him. In either case both Ill and Gregor end up conforming to the expectations of the people surrounding them. ...read more.

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