Exploring Spiritual Quests, Ethical Dilemmas, and Metamorphosis: A Literary Analysis of Mahfouz, Tagore, and Kafka

Published: 2024-01-14
Exploring Spiritual Quests, Ethical Dilemmas, and Metamorphosis: A Literary Analysis of Mahfouz, Tagore, and Kafka
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature Ethical dilemma Writers
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1468 words
13 min read

Naguib Mahfouz's Zaabalawi.

Zaabalawi is a story in which the narrator is in search of a cure to an illness. The disease is severe, but the only one that can treat it is Zaabalawi (Mahfouz, 2016). The situation requires the characters to survive under challenging conditions in the story. As Zaabalawi isn't around at this phase of the epidemic, the narrator is on a quest to find him. Despite their trying times and circumstances, these characters dare to remain hopeful and patient and do the right thing. To find Zaabalawi, they require to grow a personality that helps them live all the time harmoniously. However, from the ending of the story, it is not the narrator's case as he is unable to find his inner peace. Instead of being patient, the narrator has a desperate personal trait, which brings up even more problems in his quest. At the end of the story, it is clear that the narrator is not aware that the presence of Zaabalawi is within him. This lack of awareness leads to doubt and the narrator's lack of faith as he swears to look for Zaabalawi once again for physical healing rather than seeking spiritual healing from his inner peace. The story leads with spirituality, but the narrator fails to find a spiritual connection and the story shifts to the repercussions of this failure.

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The ending reflects the story's themes of spirituality and patience. The dramatic irony is evident in the minutes after the protagonist's discovery that Zaabalawi lost his only chance to reach him because he slept while the purpose of his mission came to him. "What a pity! He was sitting on this chair beside you all the time playing on a round-the-clock streak, a gift by one of his fans, and then, taking pity on you, started sprinkling some water on your head to bring you around "(Mahfouz, 2016). The narrator is uncertain of the one major hurdle on his path to the cure, making it clear of his unawareness that the mysterious Zaabalawi is in himself in the form of spirit and harmony. Therefore, he does not locate his inner peace or maintain or recall his inner peace in the future. He is lucky to get a glimpse into the peace and even speaks of his inner self in unity, but cannot maintain it when he wakes up and acquires self-consciousness. Once he learns that he missed his opportunity, the narrator loses his patience once again. Instead of waiting for Zaabalawi to return, he swears to set out on another quest looking for what is already within him. The lack of hope and confidence in the spirituality of Zaabalawi's healing is the cause of his troubles. The author portrays the consequence of impatience at the end of the story. The search for spiritual healing requires a spiritual connection to one's inner self and, therefore, a sign of one's desire for happiness within oneself (Mahfouz, 2016). Ironically, the narrator searches for Zaabalawi everywhere, and Zaabalawi was waiting to make him aware of his inner peace all this time.

Tagore's Punishment.

Punishment is a great ethical tale about how a lie can grow its life comfortably. Tagore produces an ingenious story that focuses on one version of violence but is embraced by another. In the end, the brutality becomes the focal point of the story, while the plot focuses on a tragic and impulsive act of domestic abuse and how Chidam's deception shatters his wife and ruins her life. The ending presents a crucial topic in domestic positions. The plot submits the role of women as being submissive to their male partners, but in the end, none has a voice, which makes the conclusion of the story so fascinating. They both have to face the repercussions of the declarations of Chidam and Dukhiram (Tagore, 2011). The findings are fatal for Radha since she dares to question and challenge the Dukhiram and the consequence is Radha losing her life. Chandara loses her life because she is too faithful to Chidam. The author depicts the marriage of Chidam and Chandara as one that adheres to the traditional marital script of the husband-wife dominance. Due to a strange fidelity change—they both accuse the other of flirtatious impulses and try to keep each other on a short leash. As the story portrays Chandara as being too loyal, it is strange that she declines to see Chidam after her sentencing. The outcome is important as it suggests that Chandara has cut all ties with her husband and no longer wants to have anything to do with him. The ending goes against the plot of a submissive wife.

As for Chandara, the marriage is over. And if she is innocent, she accepts the destiny that awaits her. In reality, it shows how much Chidam influences her. Chandara would be a free woman if it weren't for Chidam. But she still lives a life in which Chidam governs her movements (and her thoughts). As Chidam upends their partnership to defend Dukhiram, he turns their marriage upside down, against the repercussions of domestic wrongdoing he perpetrates. The very heartfelt Freedom that prompted Chidam to strive to hold Chandara close is what Chidam underestimates in his effort to have Chandara acquitted. Ultimately Chandara prefers death over marriage, leaving the domestic bond so dramatically and definitively as possible. Therefore, the story ends in irony as a submissive wife ends her submission by preferring death to her marriage.

Kafka's Metamorphosis.

In general, Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' aims at giving readers various interpretations and definitions. The diversity of topics transmits the relationship between man and transition and his personality. It also portrays the transformation's effect on his consciousness and the people around him. The readers of this story can recognize essential symbolisms that link altogether to Kafka's identification and stress their importance in forming the social transition and metamorphosis by emphasizing the viewpoint from Gregor Samsa, the main character.

This story's ending corresponds to the main plot and is in line with the story's main concepts. One of Kafka's main ideas in this work is that of the person's transition, and at the end, readers witness a complete metamorphosis of Gregor. After discovering Gregor's physical changes, the author uses his imagination to lure readers into learning how he thinks through this transition. Gregor's metamorphosis into an insect raises concerns about the impact and the effect it could have on his life. The shift in how his family members handle him is evident in this transitional phase (Kafka, 2013). Gregor eventually shifts into an insect who lacks a particular function and significance to the household compared with the past. He was considered significant because of his capacity to provide for his family. Although the story is attempting to raise awareness of Gregor's transition, the ending also portrays the effect the transformation has on his family, identity, and worldly life.

The ending connects to the theme of loneliness in the main plot. Gregor's evident loneliness and alienation during the transition are also noticeable in the change to Gregor at the end. Gregor discovers the emotions of loneliness with the metamorphosis, causing him to distance his importance from his family. However, Gregor bears the effect of his look and attractiveness for his family regardless of his actions' possible repercussions. While they first sought to express love and compassion for his transition, it ultimately prompted other members to continue their life without his old physical form. In essence, this causes Gregor's consciousness to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. He has to fight alone to realize his situation and repercussions for his life rather than find opportunities to communicate with others in his new way (Kafka, 2013).

Finally, Kafka's effort to explain the typical family concept and how Gregor's situation diverges from this fact at the ending of the story is evident. Gregor Samsa is the leading supplier for his sales work until his transition. In his father's frail physical health, the family had to rely on his earnings to meet their daily needs. However, Mr. Samsa reassumes the family's breadwinner's position when Gregor becomes an insect and governs even the life of Gregor (Kafka, 2013). While that may seem to be the case, Kafka often contradicts Gregor's family responses during his transition. Particularly the abandonment and desire to transform to someone who has given up much of his life to providing the family with something that ultimately chooses to ignore his transition and view it as a bug. On one side, they decide to ignore his transformation, while on the other, they respond by seeking to express love and compassion for Gregor's transition.


Kafka, F. (2013). The metamorphosis. Modern Library Classics.

Mahfouz, N. (2016). The Time and the Place: And Other Stories. Anchor.

Tagore, R., & Radice, W. (2011). Punishment. ProQuest LLC.

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Exploring Spiritual Quests, Ethical Dilemmas, and Metamorphosis: A Literary Analysis of Mahfouz, Tagore, and Kafka. (2024, Jan 14). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/exploring-spiritual-quests-ethical-dilemmas-and-metamorphosis-a-literary-analysis-of-mahfouz-tagore-and-kafka

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