Lit and Place Response #2 “The Metamorphosis”

Yi-Fu Tuan’s chapter on “Spaciousness and Crowding” sets apart the certain differences between Solitude and company. He refers to the company of others as “crowding,” and uses it’s meaning in a relatively discourteous manner. “But primarily people crowd us; people rather than things are likely to restrict our freedom and deprive us of space.” (Tuan. Space and Place. 59) Restriction of freedom and deprivation of space are two unsightly scenarios, both associated with the term “crowding.”

Solitude, rather loneliness, can significantly alter the characteristics of a human being. In regards to “The Metamorphosis,” a short story by Franz Kafka, solitude (loneliness/ isolation), led to a mans ultimate demise. Gregor, the main character of Kafka’s work, finds him self alone, discarded by his family because he could no longer aid them financially. Gregor’s association with his family was merely superficial. They simply desired his fiscal responsibilities to them as their primary source of income. His seclusion to the confines of his bedroom affected him a great deal.

“…as people appear in space, for every one a point is reached when the feeling of spaciousness yields to its opposite-crowding.” (Tuan. Space and Place. 59) Gregor was in fact placed in a state of solitude, both mental and physical. He fell victim to the “crowded”, overbearing responsibilities towards his family, overwhelmed by their demands. Gregor’s subconscious was in no way at liberty throughout any point of the stories narrative. He was bombarded by his boss, his sister, his parents, and seemingly every additional character in the story. He was “crowded” at times, but resided in solitude as well.

Tuan may belittle the terms “crowding” and “solitude” to a certain degree (or merely define them in his own words.), but he establishes a fine line between the two. I agree with Tuans translation of the terms crowding and solitude. Both words appear ostensibly equivalent to one another. They both signify a certain sense of vulnerability, or feeling of hazard. “I must leave this crowed room. I can’t live in solitude any longer.” Gregor had a taste of both “solitude” and “crowding” throughout “The Metamorphosis,” showing that his life was not one of undemanding nature. Neither crowds nor solitude were the answers to Gregor’s predicament, only death had the ability to truly set him free.

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