Throughout time society has been the deciding factor as to how a person fits into the world. Anyone who does not fit into societal norms, or follows a certain stereotype is seen as different, and an outcast. In Frankz Kafka's The Metamorphosis & Mary Shelley's Frankenstein they explore the realm of the outcast and how the characters of Gregor Samsa and the Monster are both given this title. Though both the stories are different in their plot and time period, there are many striking similarities between the central ideas for both novels. The themes of nature versus nurture, alienation, and fate all play a role in demonstrating how both characters are thrown into a complex situations and determining whether they overcome them.
Nature versus nurture has been the topic of debate for over centuries. It centers on whether a person's innate qualities, are more important than their personal experiences. This is the theme explored by Frankz Kafka in The Metamorphosis & by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In both novels we are aware of how The Creature in Frankenstein and Gregor Samsa in the metamorphosis are both born into the world free and uncorrupted by society, but as they go through their lives, they are shaped and influenced by their environment.
In the novelÂ Frankenstein,Â Victor Frankenstein portrays the brilliant scientist, who grows up in Geneva learning about alchemy and medicine from his father. He later attends Ingolstadt, where he prefects his studies and uses galvanism to create a monster. Victor's desire for knowledge drives him to a point of mania. The ramifications of Victor's creative acts, brings him to his death bed. When the monster is first born he is abandoned by Victor, and left to fight the world on his own. He had no home in which to stay or live in, and was tortured by the village people everywhere because of his grotesque features. The monster's struggle to understand life, through all of the turmoil, causes him to have an emotional breakdown.
The lack of emotional support for the monster causes him to kill all of Victor's family and loved ones. Now it would seem strange that the monster decides to kill Victor's dear ones, instead of Victor himself, but the monster understands that without love, Victor would die anyway. The Monster tells Victor that, "my companion must be of the same beauty and defects. This being you must create" (Shelley, 133). In this scene it is evident that even the monster tries to gain a companion, but to no avail because he is thwarted by Victor's conscience concerning the situation. When he realizes that he has no one to love him, he turns on those who love Victor. First, he murders William (Victor's step-brother) then frames the murder on Justine. After, when Victor is about to get married the monster kills his fiancée Elizabeth, causing Victor's father to die of grief from losing his adoptive daughter. The monster was not an evil demon, but just a being with a human heart. He never had the chance to laugh or feel beautiful, because those needs were stripped away from him when he was born. In the end the monster's lack of love and understanding is the cause of his lack of humanity, for although he has human parts, he becomes anything but human. Although he is perceived as an evil creature, he only became that way with the help of the people around him.
In the same way within The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa is turned into a bug, unable to formulate human speech, but still able to have human thoughts. At the beginning he is worried about his transformation, mainly because he is the sole provider for his family, and without him, he believes they would not be able to survive. In the novel he explains that, "The house soonÂ started to fall apart; the household was reduced more and more"(Kafka, 113), which demonstrates the deterioration of the family unit due to Gregor's condition. Further within the novel you can see that Gregor's metamorphosis represents both his freedom from maintaining his entire families' financial stability and his family's freedom from their dependence upon Gregor.Â With his father losing his company, and being under debt, Gregor had no choice, but to take on the burden of helping his family and therefore become their only means of survival. Here Kafka explains this dynamic by stating, "At first he was theÂ only working member of the family, and his job was very important; the wholeÂ future of Gregor and his family depended on it" (Kafka, 84).Â Gregor himself therefore never got the opportunity to experience life, they way he might've wanted to; he was just pushed into the position of being the sole purpose of his families' happiness. In the end his mother and father created him and wereÂ theÂ driving forceÂ behind his physical change. They took advantage of him being there for them and when he turned into a bug that didn't change. After his transformation they just neglected him and seemed to forget what he had done to help his family. Towards the end, the person Gregor trusted most, his sister, somewhat betrayed him by telling his parents that, "Things can't go on like this.Â IÂ won't utter my brothers same in the presence of this creature and so all I sayÂ is: we must try to get rid of it (Kafka, 124)." Gregor's environment is what turned him into a bug; "a self-inflicted punishment, which is at the same time a rebellion" (Sokel, 174). Gregor's underlying resentment for the conditions of his life is what saved him, but also doomed him.
In both Metamorphosis and Frankenstein, both characters are seen as monsters, due to a transformation that they go through. Physical appearance can sometimes aid one in defining a person's character. In Frankenstein the monster's appearance is something he was typically born with. He does not "choose" to be alienated, and in fact comes into contact with his first form of hostility when he opens his eyes and his creator Victor Frankenstein is frightened at the sight of him to the point where he flees. Brought into the world the monster was unaware of where he was and who he was. For example, the monster expresses how "I had hardly placed my foot in the door, before the children shrieked and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me" (Shelley, 101). This demonstrates how unaware the monster is as to what it is that makes people scared of him. It isn't until he catches a glimpse of his reflection does he somewhat realize what it is that makes people appalled by the sight of him.
When the creature comes upon the DeLacey family he decides to hide, knowing that it would be better that no one saw him. Becoming more intelligent each day, it becomes apparent that "the monster's most convincingly human characteristic is of course his power of speech" (Baldick, 45). The monster learns that out of the family the only person that would give him some sort of companionship is the father of the household, who is blind. During his time with the blind man you can realize that it is not the monster's fault as to the reason he is alienated, because he is able to easily converse and become friends with him. It isn't until the rest of the family comes back that they beat the monster and he runs away. It is at this part that the monster reaches his breaking point. He declares "should I feel kindness towards me enemies? No; from this moment on I declared ever-lasting war against the species, and more than all, against him who formed me and sent me forth to insupportable misery" (Shelley, 131). At that instant the monster decided if he was going to be ostracised for something he could not change or help from happening to him, he would make Victor and the rest of humanity pay for making him out to be the supposed "monster" he was created to be.
In Metamorphosis, once Gregor Samsa is transformed into a "vermin" he is unable to appear to his family, due to the fact that his mother becomes very anxious and ill by the sight of him. Because of this Gregor remains in his room very most of the story. His sister, feeling sorry for Gregor's condition, decides to regularly being him food, but she also becomes very frightened at the sight of him. Whenever she comes into the room to bring food, Gregor hides under the coach or on the ceiling in order for her to not to be able to see him. In the same sense he's appearance and deformity is what keeps him from his family, and other humans.
The fate of both the monster in Frankenstein and Gregor Samsa in the Metamorphosis are both doomed, due to their conditions. The monster distraught by how humans treat him, responds through retaliation and revenge. Gregor Samsa distraught by how his family now treat him dies. Both are unable to cope with their situations and therefore lose in the end. In the end it is apparent that both characters fates are impacted by uncontrollable things; such as one's appearance and financial status.
The absence of love and understanding in the creature and Gregor Samsa life implies that they would have profited from a companion. By analyzingÂ Frankenstein and MetamorphosisÂ we realize that the monster and Gregor Samsa are not given a chance to live theirs lives properly, therefore reflecting, how much human beings should be more kind to others, because everyone only wants to feels accepted.