The world of literature is very versatile in facts, characters, events, historical trends, settings, etc. Large deposits of literature heritage describe the wholeness of the literature world and a man, as a provider of creative thought in this art. In other words, people are apt to create something new in the sphere of art. Most of them are apt to intrinsically illustrate the social or societal problems which appeared to be paradoxes. The whole analysis of literature can be perceived in the multitude of genres, characters, and methods of representation. Its sources are very deep. In this respect, the works of three different authors are taken into account. Their thoughts are compared so that to show the similarities or differences in the themes and ideas being expressed in each of the works they wrote. These are Franz Kafka and his Metamorphosis, Cathy Song with the poem Lost Sister and Kate Chopin with a short story The Story of an Hour. These three authors are different in time prospects during which they lived. The ideas are also different somehow due to different problems which troubled them. All in all, all were highly devoted to the art of literature and writing style so that to make a reader closer to the reality of everyday life and people as well. A detailed analysis of three works will serve then as a background for further explanation of peoples’ characters and hopes in life along with their urge for a better environment.
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First of all, it is necessary to deepen into the plots of all discussed works. In each of them, there is a story of a man. At least in Kafka’s novel and Chopin’s short story, the processing and outcomes of the stories are sad enough depicting the worries about peoples’ moral shift. Cathy Song depicts stories of many people leaving their hometowns for better destinies and those who consider staying in. A brief analysis of the conceptual characteristics proves an idea of the human factor, as the main drawback and obstacle for the demonstration of fairness and goodness in the world. Examples of different lives seem to be similar in terms of the reality of such features in the attitudinal framework within people.
Egoism and cruelty of people, notwithstanding their close relation, are depicted in Metamorphosis by Kafka. The model of the mystical metamorphosis of the protagonist symbolically demonstrates an outrageous, mercantile, and inhumane attitude of his family after he appeared to be an ugly bug. The story straightforwardly begins with this moment: “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was walking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug” (Di Yanni 611). Being a traveling salesman, he understood that with such appearance he could never be in an equal position with his relatives and people on the whole. His ugliness gave him a ground for doubts about further life and the positive reaction of people on him.
In Chopin’s short story the idea of peoples’ urge for infinity is described in a hypothetical walk of a woman who does not even notice that time for life was lost and at the moment her destiny is predetermined. The creative thought of the author is great in the description of the idea of living in a concise form with peculiarities of what is believed to be after death: “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long (Di Yanni 40). This story impresses with an idea of love and urges for living for the sake of love and devotion during the whole life. The author chose such from of description about main details due to making more emphasis on the idea of life short cycle. In fact, for many people with a flow of time and life while growing up and aging it seems to be just a splash of light. Thus, the author once more makes an attempt to work out a reader’s right thinking about values in life according to time which constantly moves forward.
Cathy Song in her poem describes the personal intentions about the social changes in China where people stay before the right decision whether to leave or to stay in the country. Here a national approach is felt in her lines when she begins the poem with words:
even the peasants named
their first daughters Jade – (Di Yanni 1188).
The author is intended to admit and follow the way of changes notwithstanding the risk to lose everything. Cathy Song seeks for right decision in her poem when she provides alliteration “could make men move mountains” (Di Yanni 1188). The poem also maintains and illuminates some thoughts over the author’s history of life and her move to the United States. Thereupon, the author stands for the rational approach toward the destination in life and initially right trends of social and economic development in the life of an individual. The song is likely praying to a reader in her hopes for sound-mindedness within Chinese women when rallying thoughts over the reason to leave the place of birth and escape to some other places forever. The whole shaping of the poem is presupposed with the mere desire of people hesitating in their minds to find a better place under the sun. This is emphasized in the fact that the poem is titled Lost Sister. Furthermore, the execution of the poem is written in free verse.
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The way of comparison of all three works falls into a diverse approach in making similarities or differences in them more obvious. The structure of the comparative analysis also undermines a point on differences in time limits. This means that every prospect about the standpoints in each work should be considered and implemented to the efficient discussion. Such approach will be helpful for making a picture of the literature and its correspondence to life and people more certain and concerned.
Hence, Metamorphosis and The Story of An Hour can be compared, first of all, in their similarities in making mystical or fantastical transformations in peoples’ lives applied to the social conditions. In this respect, the role of the main characters is estimated in making the assumption about hypothetical change or reality in the lives of protagonists. Kafka depicts it with a huge sense of far-sightedness because this author was a “great inspector” of peoples’ characters and their reaction with a negative coloring for most cases. This author also depicts the bureaucracy of society. Thus, Kafka unites these two features in one for further analysis and assertion about a diversity of paradoxes in which people exist. Kate Chopin demonstrates the reality of peoples’ characters by means of a humane approach and testimonial regarding to the peoples’ urge for something which goes beyond any understanding. In other words, the author is intended to demonstrate the hopes of the protagonist within a limited period of time, so that to make emphasis the more extended nature of people. Mrs. Mallard went through various endeavors of life has seen both good and evil. Gregor Samsa, on the other hand, was young and faced with an evil characteristic of life, when everything goes wrong at once.
In the case of Cathy Song’s poem, the idea of immigration becomes a try-out. Steps of women without men in this life are really difficult because there is a danger of failure. By this, one should understand that the described idea in the poem contemplates that risk is high. Changes in living conditions and surroundings are usually presupposed with “iron nerves” and patience. If these constituents are taken into consideration and are implied as to the life credo, so a woman, particularly, can be convinced of the reliability of her constant attempts for improvements.
Thus, the main meaning or concept for all three works is, of course, the change. This evaluation is logical because the works provide different ideas in the body of each story, but all of them are united in the extent of change which appeared in a different way. In terms of Kafka’s story Gregor Samsa when having confronted with spontaneous change tried to get accustomed to new parameters or standards of living. They seemed at one too difficult for him because poor Gregor had no idea of how to continue his life, and how to adopt his frame of new not preferable existence:
But as he finally raised his head outside the bed in the open air, he became anxious about moving forward any further in this manner, for if he allowed himself eventually to fall by this process, it would take a miracle to prevent his head from getting injured (Di Yanni 614).
The inability to change something back and restate the wholeness of things that Gregor observed previously influenced his idea of new changed in a particular way of life. This obstacle is accompanied by problems of new conditions and a new rather cruel attitude of society. In fact, such idea of turn-down under new circumstances and in a new environment which is rather different from that one got accustomed to previous is heard in Song’s poem:
the stone that in the far fields
could moisten the dry season (1188)…
Kate Chopin describes an inability of an individual to live in one world when occasionally he/she faces another world, from which there is no way out. This is emphasized in the universal debate about life prospects and things that appear in the terminal state. Mrs. Mallard is seen in the center of mysterious conditions which she does not recognize whether they are real. Moreover, the protagonist in the story by Chopin, in spite of Kafka’s main character and Song’s whole idea, is described in a positive way. She sees everything as in a dream. Her change was estimated and concerned with everything good and delightful that she saw or desired in life. Death is the real and indivertible change. Mrs. Mallard does not realize it, but feels anxiety inside:
There was something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know; it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air (Di Yanni 39).
Thus, Chopin depicts the spontaneous and unpredictable character of the change with which every human being is destined to face. Furthermore, it can be much easier to make a conclusion of the fast speed of life. Life and its temporal character are considered to be the second feature that correlated the ideas in the three works. Temporal features which occur usually in a man’s life are concerned with flummery. In works under analysis, the result of the change pursues the fatal doom of the characters. Only in the case with Cathy Song’s Lost Sister, the situation seems to be rather slight because it can be influenced in a positive direction. The rest two works are outlined with total destruction of life. Both cases contemplate the idea that life is temporal, and when it comes to an end or into a new coloring, so then fatality emerges. Moreover, Kafka demonstrates in his character a desire to get accustomed to new realities of life in order to highlight a great wish to live and provide living in terms of new standards. Here new demands arise before Gregor Samsa. New demands are looked at in the poem by Song. Definitely, new demands were provided for Mrs. Mallard.
Society is cruel on many points, and this assertion deserves better observation. This third parameter of the analysis just outlines the reason for the emergence of the above-mentioned features of the discussion. In fact, an individual perceives life in accordance with the social background of the society in which one is placed at the time. Peculiarities of the society and its historical background explain the differences in mentalities within nations. On the other hand, the devotion to mankind at once makes people bear in mind an idea of the good and evil attitudes of men presented in society on the whole. In other words, it does not matter whether one belongs to a developed or poor country; society provides rules and principles which have both positive and negative sides. Thus, Kafka illustrates the society and its representatives as those wanting only material amenities from their relatives. Samsa, being a traveling salesman, was a hope for his family, because he supported them. Their mercenary ideals and pretenses to Gregor were outlined solely with selfishness. Song’s poem also describes or even makes a hint on the not ideal society with its natural drawbacks and contradictions related, for example, to racial discrimination, especially on the example of the USA, the second home of the author. In Chopin’s case, this idea is not underlined.
To sum up, it is apparent that the world of literature has its similarities and differences even if definite works relate to various epochs. The thing is that in all times a man’s character and, especially, presupposed drawbacks of it which can provide a paradox, were at the core of discussion within writers. This idea was highly outlined in terms of the current conditions in society. All in all works by Franz Kafka, Cathy Song and Kate Chopin create a background for more reasoning about life and people.
Di Yanni, Robert. Literature: Reading, Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Ed. 5. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.