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The sins of the sons: a comparative analysis of guilt, atonement and redemption in Kafka's Die Verwandlung and Thomas Mann's Der Erwahlte with reference to Hartmann von Aue's Gregorius

Hunter, Helen Elizabeth (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis presents a comparative analysis of Kafka‟s Die Verwandlung and Thomas Mann‟s Der Erwählte, two texts linked by their respective relationships to Hartmann von Aue‟s Gregorius. Bearing in mind this background source, it seeks to illuminate the complex issues of guilt, atonement and redemption addressed in both texts, through their consideration within a familial context. Like Hartmann‟s „good sinner‟, Kafka and Mann‟s protagonists occupy a curious position between guilt and innocence, suffering for sins for which they are, at most, partially culpable. Examining the origins of guilt in each text, it becomes clear that their predicament is inseparable from their filial roles: since a crisis of role distinctions within the family in each case predates and motivates the son‟s actions, he appears caught in a chain of transgressions, and burdened with inherited guilt as with original sin. The protagonist‟s ordeal may thus be read as a representative act of atonement, whereby the son removes in his person the communal guilt he bears, liberating the family. Ultimately, however, each author presents a very different familial redeemer: while Mann‟s filial saviour is resurrected and reintegrated, Kafka‟s protagonist is a true scapegoat, irrevocably excluded in death.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Martin, Nicholas and Harris, Nigel W
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of German Studies
Subjects:PT Germanic literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1257
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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