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Seeking unselfish love in materialistic world
Nathaniel Hawthorne's in her work, “The Birthmark” has presented detailed events of struggle in life of an emerging scientist Aylmer. The author has chronologically arranged the short story based on setting of late seventeenth century, a period of scientific inventions. The dynamic character of Hawthrone's work is passionate about the work he does, he has made series of new inventions, at the same time also had failed in numerous occasions. Aylmer was so busy in weaving the art of science that he, somewhat overlooked the small mark on her beloved cheeks, which later proved to be nightmare for him. Hawthorne writes, “Aylmer had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion. His love for his young wife might prove stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting with the strength of the later to his own”(45). In another short story “Metamorphosis”, Franz Kafka describes a disturbing account of Samsa; a human-insect form. Almost all the events in “Metamorphosis” takes place in Samsa's room, which is small and untidy. Kafka at one instant, also mentions about rain in the background, indicating arrival of spring. Both the short stories in spite of various distinct events and characters gives an account of daily life struggle, where material greed dominates the unselfish relationship.
In the short story “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, Samsa got transformed in to a huge insect in the morning. The authour in his narration has not given any clue for this transformation, but, I link this conversion to Gregor's wish, as once, tired of daily routine and exhausting schedule he said, “The devil take it all” (170). From this moment he got free from his worldly duties, laborious work and discomforts that he faced while travelling. Similarly, In narration “Birthmark”, the couple had everything that a happy couple long for: wealth, prosperity, fame, glory. The only factor absent in their life was peace of mind, which was due to Alymer's obsession of nature perfect. Thus, both the characters in the two stories suffer due to their greed and disatisfaction, making their life more miserable.
Aylmer was an achiever throughout his life. Before marriage, his prime goal was to attain peak position as a scientist by inventing a formula which can challenge the nature. His goal changed the moment he saw crimson mark on Georgina's cheek. As days passed he got more restless and disturbed as the image of mark started circling in his mind. Eventually, being obsessed by the mark he started dreaming the process of its removal. Aylmer was considering the imperfection as a sin, which he want to get rid of at any cost. His race with nature made him forget the value of their marriage and his responsibilities towards his beloved. Unfolding the mental struggle of Alymer, Hawthrone writes, “In this manner, selecting it as the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Aylmer's somber imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object, causing him more trouble and horror than ever Georgiana's beauty, whether of soul or sense, had given him delight” (47).
In the article, "The Metamorphosis: Overview", author Hibbard claims that the struggle depicted in Kafka's story was based on Kafka's own family struggle, which include his deteriorating relation with his father and betrayal from his sister Ottla, whom he loved dearly. Kafka in his early life was demotivated and felt isolated by his family, as the only quality he possessed was writing, for which he was never appreciated. Describing the family struggle of Kafka, Hibbard writes, “Despairing of his ability to write, he noted that he was good only to be swept up with the household rubbish, and that is the fate of his hero”(Hibbard, 1).
Aylmer's story revolves around his laboratory in which he worked since his young age and made unimaginable inventions. He preferred to live in isolation while working, his lab's structure and interior was completely contrasting to his living place. He had huge curtains to stop sunlight, and the room was lightened with huge furnace accomplished by soothing fragrance generated from chemicals that he prepared. From the setup of Aylmer's laboratory it seems he wanted to remain isolated from rest of the society, he had it all but failed to preserve it by increasing the difference between himself and his beloved. Aylmer had the freedom but preferred segregation.
In “Metamorphosis”, Gregor is not allowed to come out of the room. He is being treated as a mere animal. His family members didn't realize that he still had sense of a normal human being. His mother whom he loved exceedingly was also afraid to see him. Everybody in the house was praising the achievements of his sister but no one showed any concern nor tried to check the improvement in Samsa's condition. With the passage of time he was out casted from the house, his room was treated as store room and the only person who cared (Gregor's sister) for him no longer wishes his existence. On the other side Aylmer was having beautiful wife whom he loved dearly before the encounter with the sinful mark. He H
He could have lived a normal life enjoying all the worldly pleasures he got but he preferred to spoil his life. Thus both the characters are having everything with them but they themselves betrayed the opportunity. The Metamorphosis according to Hibbard is based on real family struggle of Kafka, while “The Brithmark” is pure fiction. In both the stories material love is presented to have higher hand, there is no room for the unconditional, everlasting love. After reading both the stories I am thinking to do more research about stories related to unconditional love.
Hibberd, John. "The Metamorphosis: Overview."Reference Guide to World Literature. Ed. Lesley Henderson. 2nded. New York: St. James Press, 1995.Literature Resource Center. Gale. Ventura College (CCL). 25 Nov. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=LitRC&u=venturac>.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark”. Desmet, Har, Miller. Prentice Hall Literature Portfolio. New Jersey, 2007.
Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis”. Desmet, Har, Miller. Prentice Hall Literature Portfolio. New Jersey, 2007.