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Identity and Isolation: The Metamorphosis and Rear Window

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Individuals are often at a constant struggle between identity and isolation. People are frequently trying to figure out who they are and what the purpose of their life is. This can be closely related to isolation because usually, people think about their identity as a human being when they are isolated from other people. When one is constantly isolated from society, one has a lot of time to think about who they are. Many people struggle with finding out who they are and finding out how they fit into society. In The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, and Rear Window, directed Alfred Hitchcock, both main characters are isolated from society and therefore have a lot of time to think about who they are.

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor, an average teenage boy, wakes up to find out that he has been transformed into a bug. When his family sees him, they get frightened and keep him in a room all by himself. His family is disgusted by him and therefore does not come visit him in his room, except for his sister who occasionally brings him food. Gregor is aware that his family no longer likes the sight of him and is in constant hiding. His family also does not speak to him because they assume that he cannot understand them. The only way Gregor can find out what is going on with his family is by listening to their conversations.

In chapter 2, Gregor awakes at twilight, which symbolizes how he is in the darkness and is isolated by humanity. His family keeps him isolated by locking his door from the outside and being very quiet around the house so he will not hear them. This can be very hard on a person who dealt with people their whole life. Gregor was a traveling salesman and seeing and interacting people everyday was part of his job. Now that he is alone at all times, he feels very lonely and isolated. Gregor's isolation is clear from his failure to comprehend the importance of his family's behavior, taking their activities for granted without questioning as to the purposes for these actions.

When his sister wanted to move all the furniture out of the room so Gregor can climb on the wall more freely, the first thing Gregor thought of was the picture he had of a lady from a magazine. He climbed onto the picture so that they wouldn't move it. This picture represents his last connection left to humanity because this was the only human that was with him in the room. One might argue that she represents the metamorphosis as well because the lady in the picture has animalistic qualities because she is dressed in fur. This picture then symbolizes the personal human identity Gregor has lost, and he affirms himself for the first instance in the novel in disagreement to his family in order to preserve his identity.

Gregor has yet to establish his identity because he is too concerned with helping his family in any way possible, such as providing money before he was a bug and constantly hiding while he is a bug. His first self-interested act of the novel is when he comes out of hiding knowing that he will upset his family. He also asserted himself when he climbed onto the picture so his sister would not take it down.



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