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Strength Of Human Spirit

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1215 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Life can be incredibly hard at times and almost everybody encounters a period of time in life when circumstances become unbearably difficult. Human Spirit as described by Wayne Hackler in the webpage “Madison Researchers Into The Paranormal (MRIP) â„¢” is “the spirit of a person who has lived in the physical plane. These spirits can be earthbound for a number of reasons” (Hackler). Imagine being assigned to ten years of unending and dreadful hardships, as the protagonist, Ivan Denisovich (Shukhov) in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Shukhov lives in a labour camp and faces his fear for survival in severe cold. He is a poor and uneducated man. His experiences in the novel show the unjust side of the Soviet legal system. In the camp, characters struggle against unreasonable punishments by the system. The character of Shukhov is a symbol of the human spirit because of his never-ending will to survive, even through the harshest of conditions in the camp. In Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka the protagonist, Gregor Samsa (Gregor) gets up one morning and finds out that he has been transformed into a giant bug. Gregor, however, is now unable to express himself to his family because of his transformation. Gregor is living in a horrible situation after his metamorphosis is worried about his family and losing his job. The family depends on him for its livelihood as he is the only one who works in the family. He does not cope with the circumstances of his life and gives up at the end. In both novels, the strength of the protagonists’ human spirit helps their life to either stop or move ahead.

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Gregor wakes up one morning to find that without any reason he has been transformed into a giant insect. Although Gregor wakes up as an insect in outward, physical form, some of his more internal feelings and emotions undergo a more gradual metamorphosis. Earlier in his life he led a normal life; he had a job like others, he had the responsibility of taking care of his family. “Metamorphosis [written] in 1912…in the revolutionary spirit of 20th Century Modernism and [with] a classic of surrealist horror” (Aaltonen, 6). It was the time when people thought of work as their main priority. When he transformed into a bug, his family almost forgets him later in the novel as they “had fallen into the habit of throwing anything unwanted in there…” (Kafka, 103). He isolates himself and hides in his room as no one thinks about him anymore. His human spirit is making him feel low in his own eyes. Earlier his family used to think about him, but now no one was with him to share his feelings. His relationship with his father is not a normal father-son relationship. He does not understand the unrecognizable son and cannot hope to. His assault with the apples on his son is passionate and pathetic show of his anger towards Gregor. He is almost pitiable-but his assault was almost deadly and it easily penetrated the son’s armour. This has a huge impact on Gregor emotionally.

As mentioned that Metamorphosis is being written in the period when people thought about their everyday life and about their future to an extent that if they don’t have job to survive; it’s one of the bad things that could happen to a person. And hence Gregor job has been gone, he has lost hope to live life in a positive way. Gregor is also worried about his family as he was the only person as a source to income. The tension in his mind for the family and job is gone to an extent that he can’t cope with his circumstances any more. His future (spirit of living) has shattered in his own eyes as he thinks that his life is of no use anymore. “He soon discovered that he was unable to move” (Kafka, 118) because his mind is under too much pressure to think and survive. One day “he knew [that] he had to go…” (Kafka, 119) and therefore, he just gives up and leaves forever.

Conversely Shukhov, in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, is imprisoned for the deed he has not committed and as a punishment he has to work in terrible weather conditions. He has been penalized without committing any crime which shows how un-justified is his sentence. He has found little things in life which allows him to be very optimistic. He has understood that he can’t change his future and has to be happy with what he has in the present and he gets in future. He lives for today and whatever he does today he relates it to the future. “It’s the law of jungle… [in there]. But even here you can live” (Solzhenitsyn, 2) and survive – that’s the law Shukhov lives with, in the labour camps. The labour camp is their home now in which they have to live. During the day, which is like most others, Shukhov is starved, nearly frozen, overworked, and punished. But as the day unfolds, it becomes obvious that Shukhov will never give up and never give in. His acceptance of his new identity and of his camp life as well as his amazing ability to build a meaningful existence for himself out of the arbitrary camp system makes him a spiritual hero. His focus on living, eating, and working puts him in control of his world. For example, when Shukhov works on a brick wall, the narrator says that “he focuses on it as if he owned every inch of it” (Solzhenitsyn, 86). He is living in brutal Soviet legal system where they don’t have sympathy towards any prisoner. Although he is a slave, he is still the king of his little area of the world and is proud of himself inwardly. He acts to keep faith in himself; his example is an inspiration for other men to think about their lives in the same way as him.

To conclude, the characters of both the novels have contrasting ways to cope with their circumstances. Gregor dies because he can’t bare the circumstances anymore and he lets go of himself. He is the one who tries to live his life after having been transformed into a monstrous bug but is unable to do so because of his family actions and reactions towards him. Hence, he is not satisfied with his life and has lost hope to live his life with positivity. But Shukhov has found positive way of looking at things, as he knows that he will never come out of the labour camp. Given the gigantic obstacles which Shukhov confronts in the labour camp are painful but they affected him on a very small scale and thereby he becomes a hero; in his own human spirit which is not broken till the end. He finds happiness by doing simple things in his life. Shukhov has come a long way in his small life of simplicity.

Word Count – 1,175

Work Cited

Aaltonen,William. Introduction. Metamorphosis. Kafka, Franz. London: Arcturus

Publishing Limited, 2009. Print

Hackler, Wayne. “Madison Researchers Into The Paranormal (MRIP)â„¢”. Organisation.

June 7th, 2010 .

Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. London: Arcturus Publishing Limited, 2009. Print

Solzhenitsyn, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. New York: Bantam

Dell, A Division of Random House, Inc., 2005. Print


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