Modernism - the Fly and Metamorphosis Essay

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How do the metamorphosis and the fly reflect the forms and concerns of modernism? The modernist movement came at the turn of the century and presented a dramatic change in the views of literature. This new view was extremely affected by the new perception of the world because of WW1 and the looming threat of WW2. Franz Kafka’s metamorphosis (1915) is indicative of the modernist movement with a surreal story laced throughout with the themes of modernism. Katherine Mansfield’s the fly, (1922) presents the notion of a higher power controlling our lives and the dehumanising impacts of war. Ultimately, both texts reflect the forms and concerns of modernism in a myriad of ways. The impacts of the desire to “own” can be considered as being enslaved to materialism. This is shown in the metamorphosis, where gregor and his family want to look rich and do so by using gregor and his job. This is emphasised by Kafka through his continued use of symbolism to represent a bigger picture. Even after his transformation, gregor feels as though he has to go through with his job, his work. “Oh god, what a demanding job I’ve chosen! Day in, day out on the road”. This stream of consciousness and exclamatory language shows his devotion to his work and his family’s materialistic tendencies. “The young man had nothing in his head except business”, “Your commercial duties in a truly unheard of manner”. These quotes both show his enslavement to the capitalistic system and to materialism. The notion that people were enslaved to materialism is shown throughout the novel and this reflects the forms of materialism. Modernism also had dehumanising impacts on people; the lower class society and the metamorphosis is a powerful indictment of the alienation brought on by the modern social order. People felt alienated from their jobs, from society and from their family. The enslavement to

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