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Father Figure Relationship in Literature

The relationships of the protagonists with their father figures in KafkaÆs ôThe Metamorphosisö and HawthorneÆs ôYoung Goodman Brownö are rich with symbolic meaning and pose an interesting contrast to one another. Whereas KafkaÆs protagonist labors to support and sustain his father, HawthorneÆs protagonist is vehemently opposed to the father figure in the story, the devil, and attempts to resist him. Both father figures eventually bring about the demise of their respective protagonists through unexpected reversal, but the fabric of the stories is textured with different perspectives and motivations.

In KafkaÆs story, the father and son trade places. In the beginning, the father exploits Gregor, allowing the entire family to live on the money Gregor earnsùof which he keeps very little for himself. In the meantime, the father hoards part of the money, hiding the fact from Gregor. As Gregor toils at a tedious job to pay off his fatherÆs debts, he counts down the years he will have to keep working until he will be free of the indebtedness. Meanwhile, his parents and sister are living a leisurely existence at homeùnone of them workingùand enjoying the services of a maid. However, after GregorÆs transformation into a cockroach, he is no longer able to work and becomes dependent on his father. In Franz KafkaÆs the Metamorphosis, the juxtaposition is pointedly described: ôBefore Gregor's metamorphosis, the father was the parasite. After the metamorphosis, the son assumes this role. A world is shown in which the enjoyment of advantages by the one has to be purchased at the cost of the other. This is the world in a fallen stateö (110). In HawthorneÆs story, however, the devil is not Goodman BrownÆs literal father, but he resembles himùa device that suggests the devil as a conscience figure more than as a human. ôAnother clue to Brown's realization of sin is that he creates the devil figure in his own image. This a...

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Father Figure Relationship in Literature. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:00, March 19, 2019, from