Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Hilene Flanzbaum


In "The Metamorphosis" and "The Hunger Artist," Kafka has gifted us with two characters who, in Kafkaesque fashion, "pay a terrible price when, willingly or not, [they go] against 'nature, '" as Joachim Neugroschel writes in the introduction to his translation of The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories (Kafka xix). Gregor awakes one morning to discover that he has been turned into a giant vermin, and the hunger artist attempts to cope with his tragedy of not enjoying the taste of food by putting himself on public display, likening his role in society to that of a common zoo animal. Willingly or not, these two characters find themselves in situations that lie outside of the "natural" human experience, and for decades, literary critics have attempted to explain why neither Gregor nor the hunger artist are able to rise above their circumstances and rejoin their societies.