Value of Community: Gregor’s Father vs. Van Helsing
Dracula was a Gothic horror novel that was written by an Irish writer named Bram Stoker. In the novel, Van Helsing is portrayed as a monster who had a desire to hunt for evil. It is believe that Van Helsing was becoming an ultimate threat to humans. But in the novel, The Metamorphosis that was written by Franz Kafka, there was a character named Mr. Samsa. Mr. Samsa was Gregor’s father, who is portrayed as a father who did not care about anything. When his son turned into a monster, it had no impact at all on him. The only thing that bothered him was the fact that the financial support that his son was giving him would be interrupted when his son would all of a sudden turn into a giant bug.
There is also another main difference between the characters of the novels besides the way that each one of the characters respond to the community that they live in. The other difference is how they are in direct contrast of each other. Van Helsing is a brilliant scholar and compassion physician while Gregor’s father is a self-centered and ruthless businessman who failed miserably at a variety of different business ventures, which lead to him being in a financial crisis. Throughout Stoker’s novel, the character of Van Helsing remains the same while Kafka’s main character of Gregor’s father has a lot of different erratic behaviors.
Van Helsing is presented in the novel by Stoker to the readers as a man who is very righteous while he does the work of God. In other words, the readers will see him as a savior to all humankind. Based on the personality of Van Helsing, he is on the mission to save humanity. The character is a lot like the character in the Bible, Abraham, who also did a lot of God’s work. Helsing said in the novel, “This battle is but began and in the end we shall win. So sure as that God sits on high to watch over His children.” (Stoker, 1987). Stoker was able to demonstrate the value of community through the character of Van Helsing who was committed to the total construction of Dracula. The evil that Dracula is represented throughout the whole novel. Van Helsing believes in the supreme humanity so he must protect and preserve humanity at any cost or reaffirming a supreme community.
In contrast to the character in Stoker’s novel, Frank Kafka presented Gregor’s father as a man who had a tiny sense of community. But the exemption was that he knew how he could benefit financially from the community. When Gregor’s father is introduced to the reader, the actions that he does towards his son appears to represent the basic principles about the value of a community. Gregor’s father has an insensitive and uncaring attitude to the transformation of his son into a giant bug is shown throughout the novel. The alienation between the father and the son from each other is well presented by the author of the novel. Then once the son’s metamorphosis turns him into a monstrous vermin, the alienation becomes even worse.
Kafka has the ability to use the disconnection of the father and son in the novel with today’s sons’ relationship with their father. The disconnection illustrates that Gregor’s father had such a desire to be a part of the community that instead he alienated himself. The generation gap that was used by Kafka to demonstrate the true character of Gregor. Because of the metamorphosis of Gregor, his father experienced a great loss of the community. Based on the characterization by Kafka, Gregor’s father has a very apathetic attitude towards his son. The attitude was very apparent in the last paragraph for the first chapter. The last paragraph states, “the little legs along one side hung quivering in the air while those on the other side were pressed painfully against the ground. Then his father gave him a hefty stove from behind which released him from where he was held and sent him flying, and heavily bleeding, deep into his room.” (Kafka, 1915). The expression clearly states his feelings towards his son is reflecting on his feelings for the community that he lived in.
Both of the authors of the novels, Frank Kafka and Bram Stocker present gothic tales that share the common themes of disgust and horror. In the novels, the individual protagonists face the phobias that they have in their life in a variety of different ways. Stoker portrays Dracula as an entity that is non-human and is not worthy is any human compassion. Then Kafka presents Gregor as miserable and pathetic who longs to have some comparison but he does not find any around him.
Both characters and the community that surrounds the character has a very unique relationship. Stoker illustrates the big concept of community through his characters, which is done through on the collaborative efforts of the inhabitants inside of the community. Then through the characterization of Kafka’s character, Van Helsing, is the person who persistently tries to pursue the villain Count Dracula by threatening the community. Dracula appears to be an outside threat to the community and Van Helsing does everything that he can to protect the community from evil. The role to save the community is very courageous of Van Helsing.
On the other hand, Kafka tried to transcend the personal dissatisfaction of the community by minimizing the whole purpose of the novel. Mr. Samsa or Gregor’s father had no use for the public once his business begin to fail. It was because the community that Gregor lived in was limited to the workplace along with some of his encounters that he had with people when he was a traveling salesperson. It shows that he gets no pleasure in public contact even when he meets people. Finally, both of the authors in these novels demonstrate their own version of community value that are very opposing in the respective literary works. According to Stoker’s Van Helsing, community was of paramount value, while of minuscule interest to Gregor’s father, Mr. Samsa in Kakfa’s novel.
Kafka, Franz. (1915). The Metamorphosis. Montecristo Publishing LLC: New York, NY.
Stoker, Bram. (1897). Dracula. Dover Thrift Editions. Dover Publications: Mineola, NY.