Literature: Representation; Making Sense of Society

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Literature is a unique 'environment' based on real and unreal events, the 'thinkable' and the 'unthinkable'. The novel Metamorphosis by F. Kafka vividly illustrates the boundary between the 'normal' and 'abnormal' helping readers to distinguish these two worlds.


The boundary between the 'normal' and 'abnormal' is influenced by culture, traditions and habits of readers. Following Greenblatt, culture is formed by: "gestures toward what appear to be opposite things: constraint and mobility" (Greenblatt 1995, 226). From the very beginning, Kafka introduces beliefs and cultural norms which will shape the novel. In spite of the fact that Gregor Samsa has transformed into an insect he cannot stop thinking about his chief at work and possible consequence of his 'sickness'. He comments: "The boss would certainly come with the doctor from the health insurance company and would reproach his parents for their lazy son" (Kafka 2003). In this case, the 'abnormal' are used as boundary which is close to us but which cannot be seen by common people. Transformations force the protagonist to look for new ways and methods to change his life. Fighting with personal prejudices and stereotypes, Gregor Samsa comes to conclusion that traditional knowledge limits understanding of the self and the world, and starts to seek for another source of his of personal culture.
The transformations renegotiate traditional boundaries between the 'thinkable' and the 'unthinkable' showing that our understanding and world perception is based on "beliefs and practices which function as a pervasive technology of control" (Greenblatt 1995, 226). ...
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