The Metamorphosis

The Significance of Setting in Naguib Mahfouz’s "Midaq Alley" and Franz Kafka’s "The Metamorphosis"

Naguib Mahfouz and Franz Kafka both use setting as an important literary feature in their respective works, <i>Midaq Alley</i> and <i>The Metamorphosis</i>. Mahfouz’s <i>Midaq Alley</i> takes place in the back streets of Cairo, Egypt during the Second World War, specifically in Midaq Alley. The alley is home to various inhabitants, including the heroine, Hamida, who desperately seeks to escape the monotony of life in the alley. <i>The Metamorphosis</i>, on the other hand, depicts a middle-class family, the Samsas, living in an apartment in Germany near the start of the First World War. The protagonist, Gregor, transforms into an insect at the start of the novella and is left confined to his bedroom. Gregor’s bedroom serves as a reflection of his dehumanizing transformation, and it becomes his coffin when he perishes at the end of the novella. In their works, both Mahfouz and Kafka present protagonists imprisoned by their settings, who, in their attempts to escape, exhibit the true cost of captivity.

Gregor’s bedroom, the major setting of <i>The Metamorphosis</i>, physically imprisons Gregor from the start of the novella. His transformation into an insect creates...

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