Metamorphosis and Postmodernism Essay

1104 Words Oct 17th, 2012 5 Pages
The twentieth century has been marked as a time of great suffering and advancement in human history. One product of this dynamic time is the theory of postmodernism. According to Thomas McEvilley, postmodernism happened in America after people started to realize that history was cruel and that people were not really progressing much. This directly discredited the pre-existing theory of modernism which took its ideology from the three pillars: progress, hierarchy of cultures, universals. McEvilley believes that the modernist ideals are just a way of creating a false reality, a world where no one is suffering and everything is beautiful. In his novel The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka uses the dramatic transformation of his character, Gregor, to …show more content…
This again shows the complete absurdity and lack of sympathy in the twentieth century family. On the surface it looks like a modernist idea, but when examined more closely it becomes clear that Kafka put this shift of hierarchy at the end to reiterate the absurdity of the family structure. In addition to the mockery of the social hierarchy, Kafka uses Gregor’s metamorphosis to reveal the negativity of family duty. Gregor’s intentions throughout the novel are to provide for the family and send his sister off to the Conservatory. Even though Gregor absolutely hates his job, he goes far beyond what is expected from him. In contrast, his family only seems to take care of Gregor as far as it necessitates. Gregor is kept locked in his room and food is brought to him. Grete only “cares” for Gregor in order to fulfill her duty and clear her conscience of any guilt. In fact, as an effort to convince her father to rid of Gregor she says, "I don't think anyone could reproach us in the slightest,” (48) in essence claiming that she has already fulfilled her duty and “it”, Gregor, is only a liability. Showing family duty in this negative light undermines the progress associated with modernism. Another postmodern ideal was to preserve the core values of the Enlightment era without exaggerating the progress made by man. One of these Enlightment values is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Kafka puts a twist to this ethical idea by

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