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IlanaSimons
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?



Choisya wrote:
Thanks Ziki but is becoming a spokeman for the 'traditionally feminine' a feminist approach? He seems to reinforce traditional stereotypes.






I am not suggesting that Kafka is a spokesman for the traditional. I think he is the spokesman for the side of Gregor: for an inability to conform, because we _feel_ too much. I hope that's clear in my post....

The story's a tragedy. We have some hope that the strange will topple the traditional. Then, when Grete rises in the end, stretches her beautiful body, and returns to the traditional, that's tragedy. Gregor--the feeling one--goes dreadfully unheard.



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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

[ Edited ]

IlanaSimons wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Thanks Ziki but is becoming a spokeman for the 'traditionally feminine' a feminist approach? He seems to reinforce traditional stereotypes.







i.e. this story says "we don't have enough empathy."
The only people in the story who even get close are the women. And they only reason they finally fail is because the bigger world sucks 'em back into its wheel of work and efficiency. Their curiosity--the time and perspectives they have--presents the only hope in the story.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 01-07-200708:59 AM




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Choisya
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

Thanks a lot Ilana for that explanation. I see the tragedy better now.




IlanaSimons wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Thanks Ziki but is becoming a spokeman for the 'traditionally feminine' a feminist approach? He seems to reinforce traditional stereotypes.






I am not suggesting that Kafka is a spokesman for the traditional. I think he is the spokesman for the side of Gregor: for an inability to conform, because we _feel_ too much. I hope that's clear in my post....

The story's a tragedy. We have some hope that the strange will topple the traditional. Then, when Grete rises in the end, stretches her beautiful body, and returns to the traditional, that's tragedy. Gregor--the feeling one--goes dreadfully unheard.



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Choisya
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

Thanks Ilana - this is very helpful.




IlanaSimons wrote:

IlanaSimons wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Thanks Ziki but is becoming a spokeman for the 'traditionally feminine' a feminist approach? He seems to reinforce traditional stereotypes.







i.e. this story says "we don't have enough empathy."
The only people in the story who even get close are the women. And they only reason they finally fail is because the bigger world sucks 'em back into its wheel of work and efficiency. Their curiosity--the time and perspectives they have--presents the only hope in the story.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 01-07-200708:59 AM




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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

Hi everybody-
Interesting reading.
I have this recollection (but could not find my copy of metamorphosis to confirm) that Gregor dies when a when an apple core of some or some other fruit end up wedged under his armor-plated skin.
If this recollection is correct, it seems relevant to the biblical lense-- a sort-of reversal of the fall of humankind. In Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In Metamorphosis, the chewed-up core ends up being Gregor's down fall.

A slightly unrelated note: Is another potential lense that of the untrustworthy narrator? A fruitfull (pardon the pun) line of thought might simply be to consider the idea that Gregor is undone by the pressures put on him. I suppose you could take a sort-of Freudian line of reasoning, given that Kafka probably would have had Freud's understanding of psychology as part of his mental landscape. I'm suggesting there was no physical transformation at all, and much of the story is Gregor's delusions. (This adresses some of the holes in the story including the rather remarkable fact that no one around Gregor point out that people don't ordinarily undergo transformations like Gregor's.)
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

I wondered about the feminist aspects too. I'm glad somebody asked.
I guess I can see that Kafka's exploring traits traditionally ascribed to the feminie. But it seems significant that these traits fail, too. So I guess I think that we might call him a feminist in a limited sense, in that he's interested in exploring those options. But I don't see evidence for calling him a feminist in a broader sense because he doesn't give us any reason to think that these avenues will be any more succesful than the traditional patriarchacical (spelling?) ones... Or at the bare minimum, even if they could, in principle be succesful they are still drowned out, overwhelmed, and defeated by the masculine approaches.
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Choisya
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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

Good post Jeff thanks. Or that they are drowned out, overwhelmed and defeated by the all oppressive establishment which takes no account of gender?



jeffcampbell7 wrote:
I wondered about the feminist aspects too. I'm glad somebody asked.
I guess I can see that Kafka's exploring traits traditionally ascribed to the feminie. But it seems significant that these traits fail, too. So I guess I think that we might call him a feminist in a limited sense, in that he's interested in exploring those options. But I don't see evidence for calling him a feminist in a broader sense because he doesn't give us any reason to think that these avenues will be any more succesful than the traditional patriarchacical (spelling?) ones... Or at the bare minimum, even if they could, in principle be succesful they are still drowned out, overwhelmed, and defeated by the masculine approaches.


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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

[ Edited ]
The question remains whether Kafka was fearful of women or commitment to women in general. Seems like I will need to peruse this matter further based on his letters. About the feminist angle it seems rather interesting. I don't think that he was a feminist par se but somehow women seem to be an elusive concept in all of his work. Unattainable angels in many senses of the word.

Message Edited by prince_alfie on 01-09-200710:52 AM

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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

[ Edited ]

jeffcampbell7 wrote:
Hi everybody-
Interesting reading.
I have this recollection (but could not find my copy of metamorphosis to confirm) that Gregor dies when a when an apple core of some or some other fruit end up wedged under his armor-plated skin.
If this recollection is correct, it seems relevant to the biblical lense-- a sort-of reversal of the fall of humankind. In Genesis, Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In Metamorphosis, the chewed-up core ends up being Gregor's down fall.

A slightly unrelated note: Is another potential lense that of the untrustworthy narrator? A fruitfull (pardon the pun) line of thought might simply be to consider the idea that Gregor is undone by the pressures put on him. I suppose you could take a sort-of Freudian line of reasoning, given that Kafka probably would have had Freud's understanding of psychology as part of his mental landscape. I'm suggesting there was no physical transformation at all, and much of the story is Gregor's delusions. (This adresses some of the holes in the story including the rather remarkable fact that no one around Gregor point out that people don't ordinarily undergo transformations like Gregor's.)




Good posts Jeff

Re: the apple in the back:
Yes, Gregor dies from Dad's apple. The scene does run like a reversal of the Bible's Eden scene. Kafka reverses the paradigm completely. In his version, God (Dad) understands _nothing_ rather than everything. It's in frustration and revenge, rather than through some metaphysical morality, that Dad/God pegs the apple at his son. Dad's angry from a loss of control, not from some purer, divine morality. And the apple here signifies the impossibility of knowing people, not the fruit of a Tree of Knowledge.

And your Freud reading:
Yes! Or...you can even more broadly say that a possible lens here is reading the book as a story about depression. The story describes depression through and through. I.e. what does someone feel when he's depressed? His whole body hurts (can't get out of bed). He feels that "no one understands me" (i.e. "can't even speak your language!" ) In "Notes from Underground," (which Kafka used as a model), the depressed man living underground says he feels like a bug. That is: You can certainly read the whole "I'm a bug" thing as the physical representation of the _feeling_ of depression. The guy just thinks he's "from a different species" than the healthy people are. And the family's fed up with his biology--the fact that he can't "improve himself."

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 01-09-200702:40 PM




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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

The women in the story slowed down the men's efficiency because their initial efforts at caring for/about Gregor just couldn't be stopped by the men. Eventually, like Ilana said, they got "sucked into" the rest of the world.

I read this story from the lens of Gregor's hopelessness of being the one who was stuck taking care of everyone with no choices to do anything differently or chances to have any changes in his life. It reminded me very much of the lament of mothers who have so many to take care of (their children, their husbands, their aging parents) that they can't seem to squeeze in taking care of themselves and can't seem to get off of that treadmill to find a little quiet time for themselves. Well, suddenly he gets turned into a bug and then what happens? They all have to fend for themselves. And the ungrateful SOBs end up unwittingly killing him.

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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?



donyskiw wrote:
And the ungrateful SOBs end up unwittingly killing him.

Denise




ha! great line



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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

When I read The Metamorphosis for the first time, I was 15 years old and it was during my "revolutioanry" or “leftist” years. I was feeling pretty much strong and I had this illusion that I can change the world.

So my “lens” was a combination of youth and optimism. That’s why reading this book, felt like a huge fall into an unknown world where I had never seen and I was not even aware of its existence. In my previous world, where I had thought "I" has no meaning unless it becomes "we" or "us", even the idea of the existence of Gregoir Samsa, the way he is described, was in pure contradiction with the basic rules of my imaginary world. Gregoir Samsa as one ordinary person, who is not like anybody else, facing the cruelty of outside world, alone and I could not accept to be part of this world.

As if by understanding his sister's dilemma, and at the same time, not being able to justify this cruelty, I had no other choice than breaking my “lens”. And in the fall into the huge emptiness of individuality, where there is no God and no justice, I almost identified myself with the bug.

It took me years to be able to break again my “vermin” lens.
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Part III: The Charwoman

[ Edited ]
I thought the charwoman was the most interesting character in TM: why didn't FK tell us what she did in the end?


IlanaSimons wrote:
You can also focus on this text as a feminist text: It’s the women, after all, who slow down the demands of everyday efficiency to try to understand another person’s struggle here.

Message Edited by pmath on 01-31-200712:10 PM

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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

Thanks, Ilana. Maybe it was the element of short story but the time that they went from living off of the earnings of a beloved family member to basically letting him die because he became repulsive sickened me. Think about how this could be a not so unrealistic story if Georg had been maimed in a horrible accident (something involving scars or acid that left him repulsive to look at) and unable to work (and had no disability insurance)?

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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?



donyskiw wrote:
Thanks, Ilana. Maybe it was the element of short story but the time that they went from living off of the earnings of a beloved family member to basically letting him die because he became repulsive sickened me. Think about how this could be a not so unrealistic story if Georg had been maimed in a horrible accident (something involving scars or acid that left him repulsive to look at) and unable to work (and had no disability insurance)?

Denise




Yes--and we all have limited energy even in dealing with people with mental illness like depression.



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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

That is so true. My mother suffers from depression and won't get help. She is a martyr and won't give that up and I know from first hand experience that I've only got so much energy to deal with her routine. To someone outside, it sounds cruel, but it ends up being a coping mechanism for those of us who need to make sure we don't get sucked in.

Perhaps that was what Kafka was writing about. He felt his family was deserting him because he had turned into something repulsive. Maybe his sister tried at first (or some family member) but they all lost energy. In real life, the experience may not have been as it was from Georg's point of view. But from Franz's point of view, it may have looked that way.

Denise



IlanaSimons wrote:


donyskiw wrote:
Thanks, Ilana. Maybe it was the element of short story but the time that they went from living off of the earnings of a beloved family member to basically letting him die because he became repulsive sickened me. Think about how this could be a not so unrealistic story if Georg had been maimed in a horrible accident (something involving scars or acid that left him repulsive to look at) and unable to work (and had no disability insurance)?

Denise




Yes--and we all have limited energy even in dealing with people with mental illness like depression.


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Re: The Metamorphosis: Question 2: What Lens Do You Use?

I was deserted by my first husband 43 years ago because I was hospitalised with chronic depression shortly after the birth of my fourth child. Our 4 children had to go into care. At the time I thought it dreadful that he deserted me (and it was dreadful that he deserted his children) but when I looked back on it I realise that I had become a sort of Jekyll and Hyde character which he couldn't deal with, nor could my parents. Fortunately I had very good psychotherapy, made an excellent recovery, was able to bring up my children successfully and have a good career.

On another level this story could be taken to be an allegory of what happens to a society which fails to look after its old and its sick and of course we all know what Hitler subsequently did with mentally ill and disabled people:smileysad:




donyskiw wrote:
That is so true. My mother suffers from depression and won't get help. She is a martyr and won't give that up and I know from first hand experience that I've only got so much energy to deal with her routine. To someone outside, it sounds cruel, but it ends up being a coping mechanism for those of us who need to make sure we don't get sucked in.

Perhaps that was what Kafka was writing about. He felt his family was deserting him because he had turned into something repulsive. Maybe his sister tried at first (or some family member) but they all lost energy. In real life, the experience may not have been as it was from Georg's point of view. But from Franz's point of view, it may have looked that way.

Denise



IlanaSimons wrote:


donyskiw wrote:
Thanks, Ilana. Maybe it was the element of short story but the time that they went from living off of the earnings of a beloved family member to basically letting him die because he became repulsive sickened me. Think about how this could be a not so unrealistic story if Georg had been maimed in a horrible accident (something involving scars or acid that left him repulsive to look at) and unable to work (and had no disability insurance)?

Denise




Yes--and we all have limited energy even in dealing with people with mental illness like depression.





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