Karisse LoraENGL 1011Patrick ButlerApril 13, 2018The Metamorphosis: Expanding on Michel Foucault’s “Panopticism”Michel Foucault was a French author in the twentieth century whose primary work is based on philosophy and history. Also very well known in this era comes Franz Kafka. The German fiction writer’s work, like Foucault’s, was incredibly unique and influential. While analyzing both literary works, an overlap of central ideas become clear. This is particularly done when reading Foucault’s “Panopticism” parallel to Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”. We can see these features of a panoptic society come to life when reading Kafka’s text. Society plays a large role in each of the publications, but is depicted in a different sense throughout them. Foucault bridges this societal gap between the two by utilizing a panoptic family and the expression of symbolic power, fear, and the body. Kafka’s, “The Metamorphosis”, tells the story of a man that wakes up one day as a gruesome roach-like vermin. When Gregor, the main character, wakes up as a bug his family tends to alienate him. He is seen as insignificant to them because he is no longer human to them. This is proved when Gregor’s father tries to force Gregor back in his room by “stamping his feet and flourishing the stick and the newspaper” (Kafka 103). His father is typically rough with Gregor. This leaves the reader feeling as though he is terrified of what his son has turned into. Heis now seen and flawed by his entire family. He is no longer normal which means that his body no longer has symbolic meaning and should be punished. (INSERT QUOTE). They even keep
him locked in his room when the new tenants arrive. This way, they know where Gregor is at every moment in time with no surprises. The constant surveillance the Samsa family has over Gregor throughout the story shows how the family is abiding by Foucault’s rules of a disciplinary system. This directly connects with Foucault’s idea that those who are flawed are dangerous to society. Foucault begins “The Panopticism” in a striking and intriguing way by introducing the plague epidemic. Many measures had to be taken when the plague arose in the town. The town had to be shut down and those who tried to leave where condemned. The question that came to mind when reading the opening of the story was “why start with the plague”? After analyzing it became evident that the plague itself was not what the chaos in Foucault’s eyes was. It was the result of the plague that rendered him to start the story off like this. In his eyes, “the plague gave rise to disciplinary projects"(Foucault 198). Because the widespread of the plague infected the people of the town, itcaused a large majority of them to be sick. This sickness can be seen as a flaw in Foucault’s eyes.