It is easy to understand the kind of sadness emanating from a failure to achieve a specific goal. It is easy to figure out the reason why a person is sad after a lover’s rebuff. However, melancholy is oftentimes seen as negative feeling with long-term effects. Nonetheless, it seems to have no beginning and no end.
Melancholy will surely lead to death. It may not lead directly to physical death. Nonetheless, melancholy will lead to the expiration of something as priceless as life. In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa’s deep-seated melancholy was the main reason for his death. In Maupassant’s The Necklace, Mathilde’s depression did not result to death. However, her passion for life reached a terminal point.
In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa woke up with the realization that he was transformed into a giant bug (Kafka 1). It was not clear if the image he saw was simply a byproduct of his imagination. It did not really matter if he was merely hallucinating ,because the image that he saw in the mirror was the reflection of his mental state. Gregor Samsa was battling depression. He had a problem with melancholy. But he was unaware of its effects on his life.
He was so preoccupied with the urgent problems that hounded him on a daily basis that he failed to realize that he was suffering from depression. He was not happy with his work. He was not happy with the fact that he had to go to work every day. He resented the fact that he was working in order to pay the debts of his parents. He wanted to break free. He wanted to find a job that would have given him satisfaction. He believed that he could turn his life around. However, he was unable to break free on account of family obligations.
He suffered under the burden of that obligation. However, when his depression transformed him into a monster, his family rejected him with disdain. It was the highest form of rejection. He felt the cold rebuff of a mother, and it was too much to bear. The constant complaints about his condition added another layer of melancholy into his life. The constant barrage of negative emotions drove him deeper into depression until he died.
In the case of Gregor Samsa, there was a direct line that connected melancholy and physical death. It was a phenomenon that was not hidden from the average person. A philosophical view of life would lead to the same conclusion. Sickness is often the result of deep sadness. A person’s health deteriorates because of melancholy. If the problem persists, the end result is death.
Mathilde suffered the same kind of sadness. It was a kind of melancholy that lingered in her bones. Nevertheless, she did not fully recognize the problem in the beginning. Her problem was not the result of poverty. Mathilde was not a wealthy person, if one will compare her earthly possessions to a member of the French nobility. However, she was not poor. In fact, she did not have to work.
Her husband was not rich. Nevertheless, Mr. Loisel had a steady income (Maupassant 1). He was a government employee. Although Mathilde and her husband could not afford to buy luxurious items, they had the ability to save money. They had the ability to pool their savings in order to purchase the things that they really need. In other words, Mathilde’s husband had the capacity to provide for their immediate needs.
At first, her sadness was in an abstract form. However, it quickly transformed into something more tangible when she lost the necklace. In the past, her sadness was rooted in her inability to socialize with the rich people. After ten years of hard labor her melancholy was rooted in her failure to enjoy her former beauty. She was forced to work as a cleaning lady because of the need to earn extra income. It was the daily toil, and the exposure to the elements that caused her to age prematurely. When she discovered that all her sacrifices amounted to nothing, her depression went into overdrive. She did not die like Gregor Samsa. Nonetheless, her passion for life was gone.
There is a common denominator between Kafka and Maupassant’s short stories. In both literary works, one can find examples of the connection between melancholy and death. Melancholy can lead to physical death because it has a negative impact on the human body.
However, the manifestation of melancholy’s impact does not always lead to physical death. It can be manifested through the termination of something as priceless as life. In the case of Mathilde, death came in the form of the inability to enjoy life. The passion for life was no longer in her heart.
Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. 2005.
Maupassant, Guy. The Necklace. 2012.